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Cornell University Library 

DT 32.5.L95 

Dual mandate In British tropical Africa, 

3 1924 028 741 175 

The original of this book is in 
the Cornell University Library. 

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the United States on the use of the text. 

The Dual Mandate 


British Tropical Africa 

The Dual Mandate 


British Tropical Africa 

The Right Hon. Sir F. D. LUGARD 
g.c.m.g., c.b., d.s.o. 


" It will be the high task of all My Governments to 
superintend and assist the development of these countries 
... for the benefit of the inhabitants and the general 
welfare of mankind." — His Majesty The King. 

"The wellbeing and development of peoples not yet 
able to stand by themselves, form a sacred Trust of 
Civilisation." — Covenant of League, Art. 22. 

"We develop new territory as Trustees for Civilisation, 
for the Commerce of the World."— Joseph Chamberlain. 

William Blackwood and Sons 

Edinburgh and London 




Whose unfailing sympathy and understanding 
have ever helped me in my work. 


The object which I have had in view in setting down these 
notes on administration in British tropical Africa is twofold. 
In the first place, I have hoped to put before those who are 
interested in the development of that part of the British 
Empire beyond the seas for which Great Britain is directly 
responsible, an outhne of the system under which those re- 
sponsibOities have originated and are being discharged, and 
some idea of the nature of the problems confronting the local 
administrator. In the second place, in discussing these 
problems I have ventured to make some few suggestions, as 
the result of experience, in the hope that they may be found 
worthy of consideration by the " men on the spot " — in so 
far as the varying circumstances of our Crown colonies and 
protectorates may render them in any degree applicable. 

To Sir E. Speed, late Chief Justice of Mgeria, I am indebted 
for having kindly overlooked the chapters on " The Law 
and Courts of Justice," and those on the status of protector- 
ates, «&c. ; to Colonel Amery, M.P. (late Under-Secretary for 
the Colonies), who has read the chapters on " Home Adminis- 
tration " and chapter xiii. (" Taxation ") ; to Mr J. H. 
Batty for having scrutinised the chapters on " Trade " and on 
'' Economic Development " ; and to Sir John Eaglesome, 
who has read the chapter on " EaUways and Transport." 

In the endeavour to present in a seK-contained form each 



of the subjects with which the various chapters deal, it has 
been impossible to avoid frequent repetition, due to the 
different poiat of view presented, and for this I must ask 
my reader's indulgence. 

I have made a point of citiag authorities freely in the foot- 
notes, with the object of indicating where fuller information 
may be found, should the reader desire to explore the subject 

F. D. L. 

Abinger Common, Surrey, 
December 1921. 





Contrast between Africa and the rest of the world — Its isolation — 
Causes which led to the penetration of Africa — Moral progress 
— The respective tasks of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and 
twentieth centuries — Object of this book . . . . 1 


EiTEOPE AND Tropical Africa. 



Keason for acquisition — Restraint of Britain — British policy of Free 
Trade — The Berlin Conference and effective occupation — The 
Hinterland theory — Spheres of influence — The Government's 
dilemma — Creation of Chartered Companies — Treaties as valid 
titles — Method of obtaining treaties — The real sanction for 
intervention in Africa — Status of Chartered Companies — The 
Royal Niger Company's Charter — The Imperial British East 
African Company — The British South African Company — 
Advantages of the Agency of Chartered Companies — Liabilities 
of Government on revocation — Lessons from Chartered Com- 
pany rule — Separation of administration and commerce — Dis- 
posal of lands and minerals — Contrast with the older Charters 
— Other methods of acquisition — British Consuls in Africa — 
India Office control — Foreign Office control .... 




Meaning of terms — The sphere of influence — Protectorates — In 
India— In Africa— Status of the people— Crown colonies— Sug- 
gested modification of status — Eegistration of British subjects 
— Tropics misnamed "colonies" — Self-governing colonies — 
Colonies on tropical plateaux — Asiatic colonisation — Contrast 
of temperate and tropical development — Value of tropical pro- 
ducts — Area and population of British tropical Africa — The 
example of India 3^ 



The Berlin and Brussels Acts — Unavoidable limitations of these 
Acts — Effect of the war and treaty of peace — The convention 
of September 1919 — Delays and misunderstandings regarding 
Mandates — The power to enforce observance — Omissions and 
suggestions — (a) Territorial boundaines and adjustments — (&) 
Free Trade — (c) Eevenue not to be alienated — Amenability of 
officials to the courts — International control — Summary of 
conclusions re Mandates — Responsibility to subject races — Re- 
sponsibility of suzerain to itself — French economic policy — 
British economic policy — Alleged infringements of the " open 
door " policy — Contrast of French and British policy — Reciprocal 
obligations on the part of the natives— Appendix, Article 22 of 
Covenant 48 



Units of Administration — Climate and physical characteristics of ': 
the country — History — Paucity of population — Hamites and , 
negroes — Physical characteristics of the people — Character of 
the typical African — Illustration of lack of apprehension — Of 
fidelity and friendship — Diversity in evolution — Administrative 
classification — Primitive races — Settled tribes — Pastorals — The 
refugees— Social organisation — Advanced communities — Pagan 
tribes — Alien conquerors — Influence of Islam — Influence of 


Christianity— Summary— The Europeanised African— Charac- 
teristics — Comparison with Indian Progressives — The negro ia 
the United States — Claims for self-government — Scope in 
municipal work — The true path to self-government — Opportuni- 
ties now enjoyed — Fitness for responsible positions — A native 
cadet service — Critics of the educated native — Future of the ; 
educated African — The debt of Africa to him — The Syrian — Is 
civilisation a benefit 1 — Some drawbacks and some benefits . 64 



Nature and functions of the administration — Constitution of a 
Crown Colony — Two principles of administration : (a) Decen- 
tralisation — Decentralisation and amalgamation — Reasons for 
amalgamation — The case of Nigeria — Decentralisation in depart- 
ments — Method of amalgamation in Nigeria — The principles 
involved — (6) Continuity : of personnel — Of records — Of Gover- 
nor's instructions and policy — Continuity in office of Governor — 
Scheme of continuous responsibility — Anticipated advantages — 
The former system — Objections by permanent officials— Object 
and limitations — The "Man on the Spot" — The scheme aban- 
doned—Suggestions for promoting continuity and co-operation 
— Tenure of office of Governor 



The Legislative Council — Unofficial representation : (a) Euro- 
pean unofficial members ; (6) native unofficials ; (c) represen- 
tation of the masses — Method of enacting laws — The official 
vote — The Executive Council — Its duties, procedure, and com- 
position — Value of Executive Council — Committees — The Ni- 
gerian Council — The Governor — The Governor's Deputy— The 
Lieut.-Governor — The Resident — The Malayan and Nigerian' 
systems — Conditions in Malaya — Contrast between the two — 
The District Officer — His training — Necessity for acquiring 
the language — Advantages of a lingua franca — Duties of the 
District Officer — Continuity at his post 114 




The classification of the staff^Selection by nomination— Selection 
by modified competition — Courses of study — Adequacy of staff 
—Cost of the staff in West Africa— Medical examination of 
candidates — Wives in the tropics — Housing in Northern Ni- 
geria, 1898-1901— Causes of mortality— Improved conditions 
— Need of sanataria and recreation — Native huts as dwelling- 
houses — House-building in the tropics — Water-supply— Segre- 
gation — Food in the tropics — Medical and nursing staff — 
Private practice — Hints for health — Medical work among 
natives 137 



The demand for reform — The constitution of the Colonial Office — 
The Secretary of State — The Parliamentary Under-Secretary — 
The Permanent Under-Secretary and staff — The work of the 
Colonial Office — Results of congestion — Lord Elgin's reorgani- 
sation — Relations of the Colonial Office with the Colonies- 
Grounds of dissatisfaction — Intervention by the Office — The 
Office view — Treasury control — The function of the Colonial 
Office — Results of the system — Ability of Colonial Office officials 
— Government by departments — Suggested palliatives- -A 
second Under-Secretary — Sir C. Bruce's scheme — Alternative 
schemes — Direct responsibility of Under-Secretary — A Director 
of Protectorates — Committees and Councils — Standing Com- 
mittees — Councils — The Indian Council — Contrast with the 
Colonial Secretary 155 




An African Council : Its functions ; its constitution ; its procedure 
— Wider latitude to Governors — Grouping of colonies — Posi- 
tion of Governor-General^Governor-General's Council — Ad- 


vantages of federation — The Trench system — Summary of 
suggestions— Personal touch with the Secretary of State— "With 
the Under-Secretary — Interchange of ofiScers — Juniors — Seniors 
—Commercial intelligence— Cost of the Colonial Office— Crown 
Colonies without means of expression 174 

PART 11. 

Special Problems. 



The principle of co-operation — Divergent methods of self-govern- 
ment : (a) Representative government : The new system in 
India ; (6) Complete independence the goal ; (c) Dependent 
native rule — The Fulani of Nigeria — Recognition of the prin- 
ciple of rule through chiefs — Advanced communities in Nigeria 
— Relations with British StaflF — Revenues of native administra- 
tions — Courts and jurisdiction — The village unit — Essential 
features of the system — Application to non-Moslem States — 
Limitations to independence : (a) Armed forces ; (b) Taxation ; 
(c) Legislation ; (d) Land ; (e) Control of aliens — Disposal of 
revenue — Alien races as native rulers — Education of native 
rulers — Misuse of the system — System must vary with local 
traditions — Administrative procedure — Succession — Extra- 
territorial allegiance , 193 



Arguments against the system in case of primitive tribes — Reasons 
for its adoption — Changed conditions in Africa — Decay of tribal 
authority — The task of the Suzerain power — Effect of direct 
taxation — Native opinion of the system — Selection of chiefs — 
Study of primitive institutions — Summary of objects — Results 
in Nigeria — Loyalty of the chiefs — Criticisms of the system of 
ruling through chiefs — Government responsibility for misrule 
— Inadequate supervision — Not applicable to Europeanised 
class — Interferes with departmental officers — Lessons from 
Indian policy — The policy in Egypt — French policy in Africa . 214 




Direct tax — The basis of native administration — Tax on pagans 
accords with, native custom — Tax in Moslem districts — Tax 
denotes progress — Delay in imposition inadvisable — On primi- 
tive people should be light — Taxation as an incentive to work 
— Is indirect taxation sufficient — The tax on advanced com- 
munities — Nature of the tax — Income and "profits" — Tax on 
average standard of production — Profits on trades other than 
agriculture — Eate of tax — -Abuses of the old system : (a) Ab- 
sentee landlords ; (b) Tax-gatherers ; (c) Disconnected areas of 
jurisdiction — Summary of reforms — Disposal of tax — Definition 
of village and town — Principles of assessment — Tax is not a land 
rent — Method of assessment : (a) Native officials ; (5) The Dis- 
trict Officer's task — Taxation of primitive communities — Pay- 
ment in cash, kind, or labour — By whom payable — Drastic 
changes to be avoided — Personation — The hut tax — Contrast 
with the tax proposed — Summary of results of direct taxation — 
Minor direct taxes — Licences and market dues .... 230 


The hut tax in Africa — In Sierra Leone — Uganda — Nyasaland 
— East Africa — Northern Rhodesia — South Africa — Foreign 
nations ........... 256 


TAXATION (continued). 

Taxation of corporate bodies — Trading — Mining — Banking — Taxa- 
tion of individual non -natives — Taxation and representation — 
Import and export duties — The case for export duties — Duty on 
salt — Adjustment of duties to area of consumption or origin of 
articles — Rebates to compensate for transport — Difi'erential 
export duties — The economic efi'ects of the war — The Paris 
economic resolutions — Committee on oil-producing seeds and 

nuts — Committee on commercial and industrial policy The 

action taken and its justification — The case of cotton Pro- 
posals of the E.R.D.C. — Alternative proposals — Contribution for 
defence — Imperial preference — Retaliation by foreign Powers . 258 




The natural evolution of conceptions of land tenure — The problem 
in West Africa — Committees on West African lands — West 
African land tenure : (a) Tribal and family ; (6) Individual 
ownership ; (c) Absence of tenure — Summary re land tenure — 
Eights of conquest — Recognition of private rights — Necessity 
for declaration of policy — View of the Committee — Nationalisa- 
tion — The economic doctrine — Criticism and fears — Actual prac- 
tice in Northern Nigeria — Summary of criticism of Northern 
Nigeria land law — Encouragement of small holdings — Large 
estates — Transfers between natives — Acquisition of land by 
Government and aliens in conquered countries — Shifting 
cultivation — Curtailment or increase of tribal or village lands 
— Summary of Government and native rights in controlled 
lands — Freehold and communal tenure 280 



Countries in which rights of conquest have not been claimed — 
Ignorance of native law — Conditions in the Gold Coast — De- 
finition of areas under English law — The law applicable to 
remaining lands — Transfers of land to non-natives — The 
executive, not the judiciary, should deal with land cases — 
Duties of Government as trustee — Disposal of rents of tribal 
lands — Government as landlord of aliens in unconquered coun- 
tries — Need for fixity of tenure — Land held by " strangers " — 
Modification of native law — Grants relating to the produce of 
the land — Forest licences and leases — Communal plantations — 
Leases of Crown lands to natives — Difi'erences in meaning of 
terms — The problem in Eastern Africa — Acquisition of land by, 
and status of British Indians — The Indian case — Obligations to 
native races — The case of the British settler — Suggestions — 
Native reserves — Divergent views as to policy — The interpene- 
tration policy — Management of reserves — The Glen Grey Act 
— Mr Rhodes' views — Land tenure in East Africa — Conditions 
for settlers in Kenya — Uganda — Nyasaland — Summary of con- 
ditions in East Africa — Population in relation to land areas — 
Conclusions 303 




General conditions of land grants— Building leases — Agricultural 
leases — Mining leases — Grazing leases — Eevision of rentals of 
all leases — Premium — Eents — Auction — Improvements — Sur- 
render — Interdependence of lease conditions — Compensation — 
Object of lease conditions — Views of Liverpool merchants — 
Acquisition of land — Mission lands — Eegistration — Southern 
Rhodesia — Other British tropics — India — Burmah — West Indies 
— Malaya — Fiji— Hong-Kong — Non-British tropics — French — 
Portuguese — The Congo — Java — Philippines — China . ■ 333 


Ownership of minerals — Justification of Government ownership — 
Alienation of mineral rights by Suzerain — -Conditions of native 
ownership — Varying conditions of mining laws — The function 
of Government — Prospecting licences — Mining leases — Govern- 
ment monopoly in coal — Oil-fields 347 



The origin of slavery — Efi'ects of slavery — Growth of opinion ad- 
verse to slavery — The position in East Africa — The nature of 
Central African slave-trade — Realisation by Europe of the real 
facts — Effect of the scramble for Africa — The Brussels Act 
— Suppression by force — Slavery as an administrative problem 
— Tribal slavery, or alien masters — Predial and domestic slaves 
— Moslem slave-law — Evils of slavery and extenuations — Inter- 
nal slavery in Africa — Slavery in protected Moslem States — 
Compensation and alternatives — Meaning of the abolition of 
the "legal status" — Results of abolition of legal status — Its 
application at Zanzibar 354 



The legal status and native courts — The change must be gradual 

— " House-rule " — Method of checking undue haste— Justifica- 
tion of methods— Results in Nigeria — Women and slavery— 7 


Purchase of wife or concubine — Employment of ex-slaves by 
Europeans — By natives in Government service — Enlistment of 
slaves — Self-redemption and ransom — Slave-dealing — Pawning 
— Disposal of freed slaves : (a) adults ; (6) children — Inheritance 
in slaves — Special cases — Women-husbands — " Igba " in Benin 
— Slave-chiefs — The task of the past and of the future . . 371 



Eree labour and slavery — Policy of H.M.'s Government — Decisions 
re East Africa — Criticisms and charges — Local opinion — Diffi- 
culty of applying the Government policy — Inadequacy of the 
solution proposed — Contrast East and West Africa — Inevitable 
conclusions re East Africa— West African products and condi- 
tions — The cocoa industry — The African as a worker — The 
African as a wage-earner — Quality of the work — The wage- 
rate — Method of payment of wages — Conditions of free labour 
— Labour regulations — Unpaid labour 390 



Compulsion by Government when justified — How enforced : (a) pres- 
sure on chiefs ; (6) by legislative authority — Taxation for labour 
— Eecruitment from contiguous territory — Alien immigration 
and labour — Contracts for repatriation — Compulsion for self- 
advancement — Wage-earning and peasant ownership — Neces- 
sity of European ownership in certain cases — Co-partnership 
and profit-sharing — Exceptional justification of pressure on 
chiefs — Native contractors — Substitutes for labour — Con- 
clusions 410 



Objects and ideals of education — Effect of European influence and 
education — The example of India — The system in British 
colonies — In West Africa — Mission responsibility — The need 
of co-operation — Principles adopted in Nigeria — Formation of 
character — Eesidential schools — The British staff — School moni- 

xiiii CONTENTS. 

tors — Field sports — Grant dependent on tone of school — Moral 
instruction — Religious instruction — Contrast of Africa with 
India and China — The machinery of education — Unassisted 
schools — Assisted schools — Grant code must be attractive — 
Suggestions for a grant code • • 425 


EDUCATION (continued). 

The three types of education required — Literary training — The 
demand — Provincial Government schools — Village schools — 
Central industrial schools — Clerical apprentices — Technical 
training — The African as a worker — Technical institutes — 
Technical courses — Details of educational methods — Subjects 
of tuition — Adequacy of teaching staff — Moslem education in / 

Arabic — The language difficulty — Higher education — Continua- 
tion and special classes — The education of girls — The cost of 
education— Compulsory education — The essential conclusions . 442 



Cheap transport a necessity — Necessity for railways — Selection of 
routes — Pioneer lines — Methods of construction: (a) contrac- 
tors ; (6) " the departmental system " ; (c) by the Local Gov- 
ernment ; (d) by private enterprise — Application of railway 
revenues — Location of central workshops — Standardisation — 
Narrow - guage development lines — Tramways — Mechanical 
transport — Animal transport — Roads and carts . . . 461 



Nature of trade in Africa — The fixing of price — Monopoly and com- 
bination — The middleman — The native trader — The native 
merchant — British v. native merchants — The Indian trader— 
Government and trade — Government and private enterprise — 
Concessions — Concessions for oil-mills — The principles involved 
— Produce inspection — Cash trade v. barter — Currency — A trade 
department — An Economic Board — French Chambers of Com- 
merce — Trade commissioners and home agencies — The Crown 
agents — Criticisms of the system 477 




Necessity for economic development — State-aided enterprise — Rail- 
ways — Research and propaganda — Functions of the technical 
departments : (a) Laboratory research ; (5) Experimental 
research; (c) Propaganda and instruction — The native staff — 
Practical application of research results — The Imperial Insti- 
tute — Advantage of free native cultivation — Specialisation in 
dealing in products — The evolution of industrialism — The 
indictment against Indian policy — Krst steps in Africa : (as) 
Preparation and semi-manufacture of exports ; (6) Local substi- 
tutes for imports ; (c) New local manufactures — Employment of 
native capital — Industries not inimical to British trade . . 498 



The economy of labour — Domestic animals — Mechanical appliances 
— Irrigation — Reclamation of desert — Natural power — Saving 
of waste — Staple products — Oil-nuts — Cotton — Cocoa — Hides — 
Timber — The task of the forest officer — Destruction of forests 
— Measures for protection — Reserves — Reasons for conservation 
— The object in view : co-operation — Other methods — Other 
products and possible products — Ranching and stock-raising — 
Tsetse-fly — Preservation of game 516 



The law in African dependencies — Ordinances — Regulations — The 
courts — The Supreme Court — Merger of judicial and executive 
functions — Disadvantages of the Supreme Court as the sole 
tribunal — The provincial courts — Contrast between the two 
systems — Some advantages of provincial courts — Legal practi- 
tioners in courts — Special procedure re plea and oath — Col- 
lective punishment — Reconciliation — Native debts — Value of 
native courts — The objects in view — Native customary law 

Constitution and powers of native courts— Supervision of 

native courts 536 



COURTS OF JTJSTICB (eontinued). 

The evolution of native courts in primitive communities— Clerks of 
native courts — Higher grade courts — Application of ordinances, 
&c., in native courts — Native courts and slavery — Punishments 
by native courts — Imprisonment — Corporal punishment — Other 
punishments — Capital sentences — Punishment of women — Dif- 
ferences in native punishments — Witchcraft — Eespective func- 
tions of British and native courts — Eesults in Nigeria — Offences 
against natives — The Judge's vacation — Magistrates — The 
Indian parallel — Appendix : The French system . . . 553 



A. Municipal Self-Government. — Disinclination to pay rates — Au- 

tonomy depends on financial solvency — Nomination or election 
of councillors — Varying types of municipalities — Constitution 
and powers in Nigeria — Distinctive features of townships. 

B. Armed Forces and their Employment. — African races as soldiers 

— Points to be noted — Danger of discontent among troops — The 
application of force — Home critics — Methods of maintaining 
law and order — The attitude of primitive tribes — Mistaken 
methods — The avoidance of occasions of trouble — "Hill -top" 
pagans — Method of using force — Military operations — Enforc- 
ing the civil law — Measures to avoid conflict — Nature of penalty 
— Precautions 570 



G. Missions. — The debt to Missions — Missions in East Africa — 
Missionaries and politics — Missions in "West Africa — Evils of 
sectarian rivalry — Polygamy — Missions and European prestige 
— Social effects of Mission work — Missions in pagan districts — 
Missions to Moslems — Lord Salisbury's opinion — Restriction in 
Nigeria and the Sudan — Justification of restriction — The Mos- 
lem point of view — Concurrence of Government needed for 
establishment of Missions — Mission spheres — Religious minis- 


D. The Use of Intoxicants. — Import of spirits — Origin of movement 
for suppression — The position in West Africa — Measures of 
restriction— Prohibition by convention — The moral aspect of 
the traffic — The material aspect — The present position and 
policy — Native liquor — Control of native liquor — Distilleries . 586 



The nature of the task — The views of the " Labour Research De- 
partment " — The cost to the British taxpayer — The benefits to 
the democracy — Food and defence — TradeFand employment — 
Openings for personal enterprise — Formation of national char- 
acter—Motives for acquisition — Some moral incentives — Pres- 
sure of population — The right of mankind to tropical products 
— The verdict of democracy — Accusations in regard to treat- 
ment of native races — Benefit to Africa — England's mission . 606 

Index 621 





Contrast between Africa and the rest of the world — Its isolation — Causes 
which led to the penetration of Africa — Moral progress — The respec- 
tive tasks of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries — 
Object of this book. 

Afeioa has been justly termed " the Dark Continent," for 
the secrets of its peoples, its lakes, and mountains and rivers, 
have remained undisclosed not merely to modern civilisation, 
but through aU the ages of which history has any record. 
There are many regions in Asia — in Persia, Assyria, Arabia, 
and Western China — in which modern explorers have claimed 
to have made discoveries. But all these countries were the 
seats of ancient civilisations, some of them highly developed, 
and exploration was concerned rather with piecing together 
chapters of past history than in discovery. The penetration 
into the interior of Africa, on the other hand, may as truly 
be described as discovery as that of America by Columbus. 

The Muscat Arabs from Zanzibar were pioneers in the 
exploration of the region of the great lakes and the Congo 
basin, while in Western Africa the zeal of the Moslem Arabs 
and Berbers led them across the Sahara. Here indeed a 
great empire, famed for its culture, boasted a fragmentary 
history dating back to the eighth or ninth centuries ; but 
in this or any other part of tropical Africa, from the frontiers 
of Egypt to the Zambesi, there are no traces of antecedent 



civilisations — no monuments or buried cities — like those of 
the prehistoric civilisations of Asia and South America. 

That portion of the north of Africa vs^hich is included in 
the temperate zone, and contiguous to Europe, had been the 
home of the most ancient civilisations, first of Egypt, dating 
back some 4000 B.C., and later of the Phoenicians. But 
Egypt had penetrated no further south than Ethiopia, while 
the Carthagenians (though they had trade routes with the 
interior) i for the most part confined their efforts to the 
establishment of colonies on the coast. We read of one or 
two expeditions to the interior both by Pharaoh Necho and 
by Carthage, but they were barren of results. So were the 
expeditions of the Greeks, who founded their first colony 
at Cyrene 1000 years before Christ, and of the Eomans, who 
later incorporated all North Africa as a Eoman province. 

Accurate knowledge even of the coast-line, and the estab- 
lishment of European settlements upon it, dates only from 
the fifteenth century — synchronising with the discovery of 
America. The outlet for commerce and the new fields which 
this great discovery — together with the development of India 
— afforded to adventurous pioneers, diverted for some three 
centuries or more the tide of exploration which might other- 
wise have set towards Africa. The voyages of Da Gama 
and others in the fifteenth century had, however, already 
produced one very notable restdt. Hitherto the gateway 
which led to the great unknown interior had been situated 
in the north. Access to Timbuktu was by caravan across the 
desert from Tripoli or Algeria. The sea route discovered 
by Da Gama disclosed a back door, which was henceforth to 
become the principal entrance. As modern railways have 
rendered the desert route obsolete, they may in the not 
distant future restore it. 

Thus the interior of Africa remained unknown. It appeared 
on the map as a great blank space, with a fringe of names 
all round its coasts, till Livingstone, Earth, and others began 
its systematic exploration about seventy years ago. For 
thirty or forty years tropical Africa remained a field for adven- 
turous and sensational exploration, and it was not till 1885 — 
when the Berlin Act was passed — ^that the modern develop- 
ment of Africa began to assume definite and recognised form. 

What, then, were the causes which led to the opening up 

' Heeren's Historical Researches — vol. African Nations, p. 17 et seq. 


of Africa, a continent whicli all the preceding ages of the 
world's history had left untouched, though it lay close to the 
homes of the early civilisations in Europe and Asia — a con- 
tinent containing a fifth of the earth's land surface and a 
ninth of its population ? 

The root cause of Africa's isolation was, no doubt, that the 
world had not hitherto had urgent need of its products, and 
that its warlike tribes were able to repel unwelcome visitors 
armed but Uttle better than themselves. Even when the 
economic pressure caused by the rapidly increasing popula- 
tion of Europe began to exert its inevitable influence, in driv- 
ing men to seek for new markets and fresh supplies of food 
and raw material, the discovery of America, and the new 
fields for commerce in India, more than met the demand for 
several centuries. It was not until the great industrial re- 
vival which followed the Civil War in America that America 
began herself to compete in the world's markets, and to 
utilise her own resources primarily for the needs of her own 

One of the more immediate causes which led to the opening 
up of Africa was the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. Crippled 
by her defeat. Prance proclaimed by the mouth of her prin- 
cipal statesmen and writers ^ — just as she is doing to-day — 
that it was to Greater Prance beyond the seas, and especially 
in West and INorth-West Africa, that she must look for re- 
habilitation. At that time, moreover, colonisation in tropical 
Africa was believed to be both possible and desirable. Ger- 
many, on the other hand, found herself with a great and 

' It is interesting to note that it was the conquest of the ocean which directly 
led to the expansion of the peoples of Europe, and relieved them from the age- 
long pressure of Asia on their frontiers. In 1492 Columbus discovered America, 
and in 1494 Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape and opened up the way to India. 
At that time (a.d. 1500) the population of Europe was about 70 millions. At 
the end of the next three centuries (a.d. 1800) it is said to have been 150 
millions, an additional 10 millions having migrated overseas. But at the close of 
the succeeding century — which witnessed the industrial revolution, and the 
advent of steam navigation — it is estimated (a.d. 1900) at nearly 450 millions, 
with 100 million additional emigrants. Thus while the population of Europe 
only doubled iteeU in the three centuries prior to 1800, it more than trebled 
itself in the following century. The figures for Great Britain are : population 
in 1600 (England only), 4,800,000 ; in 1800 about 16,000,000 ; and in 1900 about 
42,000,000.— (Stoddard, 'The Rising Tide of Colour,' p. 155, Whittaker, &c.) 

An additional reason for the demand for increased supplies of food and raw 
materials at the close of the nineteenth century was to be found in the immensely 
improved standard of living of the people. See pp. 614, 615. 

^ See M. Leroy Beaulieu, ' Histoire de la Colonisation chez les peuples 
modernes. ' 


increasing industrial population ia urgent need of raw materials 
and additional food supplies. Not content with the whoUy 
unrestricted market offered by British colonies, where Germans 
were welcomed, and exercised every privilege equally with 
their British rivals, she not unnaturally desired to have 
colonies of her own. We have since learnt that she had other 
motives — the creation of naval bases and world-wide wireless 
stations, and the raisiug of negro armies for world conquest. 

Humanitarian motives — the desire to suppress the slave- 
trade, &c. — also played their part, but it was the rivalry of 
these two great Contiaental Powers which was the immediate 
cause of the modern "partition of Africa." By the BerUn 
Act of 1886, and the Brussels Act of 1892, Europe and 
America endeavoured in some feeble way to safeguard the 
interests of the natives — but these Acts were practically in- 
effective for their purpose. The one thing they did succeed 
iu effecting was the restriction of the import of arms of 
precision to the natives, theoretically as a check to the slave- 
trade, but with the practical result of rendering the African 
more powerless than ever to resist conquest by Europeans. 

England was unwillingly forced into the competition. On 
the one hand her colonies on the West Coast demanded some 
effort, to save them from being cut off from all access to the 
interior by hostile foreign tariffs, and becoming mere coast 
enclaves. Her vital interests in India, on the other hand, 
compelled her to protect her route thither — Egypt, the Suez 
Canal, and the eastern shores of Africa. The essential interests 
of Egypt, for which she had become responsible, demanded 
the protection of the l^ile sources. 

For a decade and more the " scramble " went on till it 
was brought to a close by the conventions with Prance of 
1898 and 1899, and the Pashoda incident of the latter year. 
Germany had secured large colonies in East, West, and South 
Africa, at the expense of prior British claims, but we recog- 
nised her right to a place in the tropical sun. Prance added 
largely to her territory in West and Central Airica, and 
annexed the great island of Madagascar. 

It was towards the close of this period of rivalry that Mr 
Joseph Chamberlain became Colonial Secretary, and for the 
first time in our history a policy of progress and development 
found favour at Whitehall. The colonies were encouraged 
to raise loans, supported if necessary by Imperial credit, for 
the development of their resources, and had it not been for 


the South African War this policy would, I know, have been 
carried much further. During the twelve years which elapsed 
between the South African and the recent world war, great 
progress was made in the construction of roads and railways, 
and the opening up of waterways, — for the material develop- 
ment of Africa may be summed up in the one word " trans- 

Though we may perhaps at times entertain a lingering 
regret for the passing of the picturesque methods of the 
past, we must admit that the locomotive is a substantial 
improvement on head-borne transport, and the motor-van is 
more efficient than the camel. The advent of Europeans 
has brought the mind and methods of Europe to bear on the 
native of Africa for good or for iU, and the seclusion of ages 
must perforce give place to modem ideas. Material develop- 
ment is accompanied by education and progress. 

The condition of Africa when Europe entered the continent, 
which Isaiah so graphically describes as " the land overshadow- 
ing with wings, which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia ... a 
people scattered and peeled," was deplorable. On the East 
Coast, Arabs and half-castes were engaged ia a lucrative trade 
in slaves for export to Arabia and to Turkish possessions. 
In the west, powerful armies of Moslem States depopulated 
large districts ia their raids for slaves. Europe had failed to 
realise that throughout the length and breadth of Africa 
inter-tribal war "was an ever-present condition of native life, 
and that extermination and slavery were practised by African 
tribes upon each other. 

It was the task of civilisation to put an end to slavery, to 
establish Courts of Law, to inculcate in the natives a sense of 
individual responsibility, of liberty, and of justice, and to 
teach their rulers how to apply these principles ; above all, to 
see to it that the system of education should be such as to 
produce happiness and progress. I am confident that the 
verdict of history will award high praise to the efforts and 
the achievements of Great Britaia in the discharge of these 
great responsibilities. For, in my belief, imder no other rule 
— ^be it of his own uncontrolled potentates, or of aliens — does 
the African enjoy such a measure of freedom and of im- 
partial justice, or a more sympathetic treatment, and for that 
reason I am a profound believer in the British Empire and its 
mission in Africa. 

In brief, we may say that the eighteenth century was chiefly 


remarkable for the acquisition of large and almost uninhabited 
portions of the earth, situated in the temperate zone. The 
nineteenth century saw the development of these great 
colonies into nations enjoying self-government. Its closing 
decade witnessed the dawning recognition of the vital im- 
portance of the tropics to civilisation, and the " discovery " 
and acquisition of large non-colonisable areas ia tropical 
Africa — ^no longer regarded as picturesque appanages of 
Empire, but as essential to the very existence of the races of 
the temperate climes. 

To the twentieth century belongs the heritage of the tropics 
and the task of their development. Two decades have already 
passed and wonderful progress has been made, not only in 
the improvement of the quality and quantity of the material 
output, by scientific research, by organised method, and by 
the expenditure of capital, but also ia methods of adminis- 
tration for the welfare of the subject races, education, free 
labour, taxation, and other similar problems. 

A comparative study of the methods by which these vari- 
ous problems — administrative and economic — have been ap- 
proached in the several tropical dependencies of the Empire 
and by other nations would form a fascinating study and 
a useful guide,^ but the racial differences between Asiatics 
and Africans are so great (as my own experience in India 
and China have taught me) that methods applicable to the 
one may be quite misplaced with the other. The tropical 
dependencies in Africa, on the other hand, offer almost iden- 
tical problems. 

"Ifo serious attempt," says Mr Kidd, "has so far been 
made to set forth the principles which should underlie our 
future relations with the tropical regions of the world. . . . 
Nowhere is there to be found any whole-hearted or con- 
sistent attempt either to justffy the political relations which 
already exist, or to define the principles of any relations which 
ought to exist in the future." ^ The following pages have been 

1 The great value of a bureau to collate and pubUsh the results of administra- 
tive experience in various tropical countries was urged by Sir T Morison in a 
letter to the ' Times ' of 21st July 1920. 

2 ' Control of the Tropics,' pp. 15, 16. Compare the 'Times ' (1st Oct. 1901) 
No attempt has been made to ascertain what are the special conditions of the 

administrative problem in Equatorial Africa, no attempt has been made to formu- 
late the general lines of a well-considered policy in dealing with that problem 
and no machinery has been devised for maintaining continuity of administration '' 


written in the hope that an experience, with short intervals, 
of forty years in the tropics, and of over thirty in responsible 
positions in Africa, may enable me to make some useful con- 
tribution to the study of these subjects. During the first 
half of these thirty years it was my privilege to assist in 
some degree in bringing imder British control portions of 
K"yasaland, East Africa, Uganda, and Mgeria, where the 
difficulties of the pioneer had to be encountered. During 
the second fifteen it has been my good fortune to be entrusted 
with the development of Mgeria, and with the aid of capable 
colleagues to lay the foundations of a system of administra- 
tion upon which others may build. I shall endeavour to 
describe the difficulties encountered, the methods used, and 
the results obtained in administration — ^which forms the most 
important part of our task in Africa. It is, moreover, also of i 
great moment that the British democracy, faced with problems 
which portend great changes in our social organisation, 
should tmderstand the relation which our overseas depen- 
dencies bear to the economic wellbeing of this country — how 
vital to our industrial life are the products of the tropics, and 
its markets for our manufactures. It is indeed essential that 
democracy should take an intelligent and well-informed in- 
terest in questions which affect the Empire of which it is the 
inheritor and trustee. 





Reason for acquisition — Restraint of Britain — British policy of Free 
Trade — The Berlin Conference and effective occupation — The Hinter- 
land theory — Spheres of influence — The Government's dilemma — 
Creation of Chartered Companies — Treaties as valid titles — ^Method 
of obtaining treaties— The real sanction for intervention in Africa — 
Status of Chartered Companies — The Royal Niger Company's 
Charter — The Imperial British East African Company — The British 
South African Company — -Advantages of the Agency of Chartered 
Companies — Liabilities of Government on revocation — Lessons from 
Chartered Company rule — Separation of administration and com- 
merce — Disposal of lands and minerals— Contrast with the older 
Charters — Other methods of acquisition — British Consuls in Africa — 
India Office control — Foreign Office control. 

The desire of France and Germany to acquire tropical posses- 
sions was due primarily to the idea that they were colonisable 
— an idea, as we shall presently see, not yet exploded in 
Germany, and at one time shared by Great Britain, who, 
however, having already acquired great tracts in the tem- 
perate zone, had no need to seek a tropical outlet for her 

The African possessions of Great Britain were not there- 
fore acquired, as in the case of the Continental Powers, in 
pursuance of a definite policy, for which they were willing 
to risk war. The older " settlements " on the West Coast 
were originally maintained to assist in putting an end to 
the overseas slave trade, and so httle were they valued that 
a Royal Commission in 1865 recommended their abandon- 


ment as soon as convenient. Missionaries — as in Uganda and 
Kyasaland — were often the pioneers, and it was in defence 
of their interests that the Government was forced to inter- 
vene. The desire to extend protection and to introduce 
justice and peace have from time to time led to the enlarge- 
ment of frontiers, for law and order caimot exist side by 
side with barbarism. In the west traders such as the Mger 
Company took the lead as pioneers, but it was not till the 
close of the nineteenth century that the value of the produce 
of the tropics began to be realised in England. 

When, however, the " scramble for Africa " followed the 
Berlin Act of 1885, the popular demand that Britain, as 
the foremost colonising Power, should not be backward in 
claiming her share was irresistible, and it was due to this 
popular demand to " peg out claims for futurity " — ^however 
Mttle their value was understood at the time — that we owe 
our African Empire of to-day. It was, moreover, felt that 
whatever value our existing tropical possessions might have, 
would be lost if other nations with exclusive tartSs appro- 
priated their hinterlands. Their value as coaUng stations in 
the scheme of Empire was indeed recognised, but the great 
importance of these bases for attack and defence by sub- 
marines, and for wireless installations, was a lesson for the 
future to teach. The instinct of the nation recognised with 
Dr Pearson that " the permanency of Empire consists in its 
extension." The vital importance of the control of the tropics 
for their economic value had, however, already begun to be 
reahsed by the nations of Europe, and Prance, Germany, 
and Italy, laying aside their ambitions in Europe, emerged 
as claimants for large " colonies " in Africa. 

When Great Britain took part in the scramble, she willingly 
recognised the claims of Germany — a Power newly consoli- 
dated, and with an increasing and industrial population. 
She stood aside in the Cameruns, where the chiefs had 
more than once formally asked for British protection. She 
renounced the territorial claims which she might have asserted 
in the Congo region in virtue of Cameron's treaties, and in 
East Africa she was contented with a fraction of the territory 
which the Sultan of Zanzibar offered. In South- West Africa, 
bordering the tropics, her delay and indifference made it 
easy for Germany to forestall her. 

To the no less energetic action of Prance no opposition 


was offered, until her encroachments affected the interests 
of our existing possessions so closely that national prestige 
and honour were iavolved. 

In one very notable particular the policy of Great Britaia 
differed from that of her rivals. The great territories which 
she controlled were entirely free to the trade and commerce 
of all nations. Not merely were there no discrimiaating 
tariffs, but the French and German merchants who estab- 
lished themselves ia British territory were treated with pre- 
cisely the same cordiality, and were afforded the same facili- 
ties for travel ia the iaterior, and for acquiring land, as our 
own nationals. " Our rise," says the German writer, Bnul 
Zimmermarm, " depended essentially on the English policy 
of the open door." ^ 

The Berlin Conference of 1885 limited the necessity for 
" effective occupation " — ^by which the validity of a claim 
to territorial acquisition should be tested — ^to coast lands, 
and defined it as " the necessity of securing the existence of 
a sufBcient authority, ia the territories occupied, to ensure 
respect for acquired rights, and if necessary for freedom of 
commerce and transit ia the conditions ia which it may have 
been stipulated." ^ The British delegate (Sir E. MaUet) had 
proposed that this rule should be made applicable to ia- 
terior lands,' but the proposal was negatived, largely at 
the instance of the French delegate (Baron de Courcel). The 
Conference therefore laid down no definite rule as to the 
basis upon which the vahdity of claims to sovereignty ia the 
interior should be recognised. 

The principle of the " voluntary consent of the natives whose 
country is taken possession of ia all cases where they have 
not provoked the aggression " was put forward by the Ameri- 
can delegate (Mr Kasson),* and it may be assumed that it 
was tacitly accepted. For on 23rd February 1885 the presi- 
dent of the International Association of the Congo submitted 
to the Conference the various declarations and conventions 
concluded with each of the Powers represented there, under 
which they recognised " the formation of this new State," 
and the declarations with Great Britain, the United States, 
and Belgium set out that it was by virtue of treaties with 

' ' The German Empire of Central Africa,' pp. 2 and 5. 

2 C. 4361/1885, Protocol 8, p. 219. 

3 Ibid., p. 214. '' Ibid., p. 209. 


the legitimate sovereigns in the Congo basin that vast terri- 
tories had been ceded to the State with all the rights of 

Since the Conference had refused to deal explicitly with 
the acquisition of territory other than coast lands, " the 
hinterland theory " — made in Germany — ^which had not the 
sanction of the Berlin Act or any precise definition, gradually 
received acceptance, in so far as the " rights " of the Euro- 
pean Powers and their relations towards each other in the 
partition were concerned. By this dictum a Power in occupa- 
tion of coast lands was entitled to claim the exclusive right 
to exercise political influence for an indefinite distance inland. 
Obviously in a very irregularly-shaped continent no method 
could be more calculated to create diflftculties, and the climax 
seemed to have been reached when Prance claimed to restrict 
the frontiers of Nigeria, on the ground that they formed the 
hinterland of Algeria on the Mediterranean. 

The Powers, in their haste to declare the " spheres of 
influence " which they claimed, had not in some cases .time 
to go through the formality of making treaties with the 
natives, and considered it sufficient to notify that they claimed 
them as hinterlands, or because they had some special interest 
in them. They were vaguely demarcated by lines of longi- 
tude and latitude regardless of tribal limits, or by reference 
to physical features which later exploration sometimes proved 
to be scores of miles from their supposed position, or even 

The conception of a " sphere of influence " was a new 
departure in the vocabulary of diplomacy — already fore- 
shadowed by Article 6 of the Act, ia which the exercise of 
" sovereign rights or influence " is aUuded to. It was, I 
think, invented by our Foreign Office, for Great Britaiu alone 
appeared to have scruples as to the legality or justice of 
assuming dominion based neither on conquest nor on the 
assent of the iuhabitants. She would have preferred that 
effective occupation should be a matter of gradual and peace- 
ful penetration. The term " sphere of influence " was thus 
used to designate those regions over which the right to exer- 
cise exclusive political iufluence was claimed, but in which 
no rights over the natives could be logically exercised, and 
no properly accredited representative of the suzerain Power 

^ Berlin Act, Protocol 9, pp. 253-278. 

THE government's DILEMMA. 13 

could be appointed, until some legal claim had been estab- 

The success of the expedient was short-Uved. Setting aside 
her former opposition to Sir E. Malet's proposal, Prance now 
insisted that effective occupation could alone confer title, 
and in 1887 this was fully admitted by the British Govern- 
ment. Lord Salisbury, in a despatch of 1887 to the Minister 
at Lisbon, writes : "It has now been admitted on principle 
by aU parties to the Act of Berlin, that a claim of sovereignty 
in Africa can only be maintained by real occupation of the 
territory claimed. You wiU make a formal protest against 
any claims not founded on occupation, and you wiU say that 
H.M.'s Government cannot recognise Portuguese sovereignty 
in territories not occupied by her in sufficient strength to 
maintain order, protect foreigners, and control the natives." 
This passage is interesting, not only as stating the formal 
acquiescence of the British Government in the theory of 
effective occupation, but as containing a definition of what 
constituted it, and a frank admission that territorial acquisi- 
tion, whether under the name of Protectorate or otherwise, 
meant nothing less than sovereignty and the control of the 

The rulers of Great Britain were strongly opposed to ex- 
tension of our territory in Africa, but the popular demand 
left the Foreign Office no alternative.^ The Government 
viewed with alarm the great cost of effective occupation, 
as that phrase was translated in England. But the British 
public never considers the cost of its demands, though it 
holds the Government to strict account for any disaster 
due to an inadequate staff and insufficient force to protect 
its officers. We had not yet learned to think in hundreds of 
milUons. The staff, the troops, and the money were lacking, 

' How clearly this was recognised abroad may be seen from the following 
passage in Baillaud's authoritative work : " II faut, en eflfet, remarquer que, d'une 
mauifere coutume, jusque dans ces toutea derniferes ann^ea, le Colonial Office, que 
repr&entait le gouvemment anglais dans ces affaires, ne cessa de manifester, sauf 
pendant le seul secretariat de M. J. Chamberlain, une opposition constante a 
toute politique d'expansion et h tout acoroissement des attributions des pouvoirs 
locaux ; et Mary Kingaley ('West African Studies,' p. 305) est bien autorisee a 
dire, ' Juaqu'a nos jours le Colonial Office a 6t6, excepts dans le detail des affaires 
interieures coloniales, une chaine d'entraves pour le ddveloppement de I'Augle- 
terre en Afrique Occidentale. II a ^t^ nou pas indifferent, mais nettement 
oppose. ' " — 'La Politique indigene de I'Angleterre en Afrique Occidentale,' 
Introduction, p. xxvi. We need hardly recall Majuba, Gordon at Khartum, or 
Mr Gladstone's decision to evacuate Uganda. 


and neither the Colonial nor the Foreign OfSce had any 
knowledge or experience of administration ia the interior of 
tropical Africa, or of raising and commanding troops. Above 
aU, the statesmen of Britain had not grasped the incalculable 
value of the claims which the instinct of the nation urged 
them to peg out. But something had to be done to prevent 
European rivalries developing into a war. The comfortable 
— albeit statesmanlike — expedient of a sphere of influence in 
which rival diplomacy would cease from troubling, and 
development might await the millenium, was repudiated by 
the Continental Powers, and found no favour at home. Our 
rivals were constantly encroaching on our shadowy boun- 

The modem " Merchant Adventm;er " was ready to employ 
his capital in the development of these regions, and to accept 
the responsibiUty which the Government shunned, provided 
that he was allowed to monopoUse the trade, to exercise rights 
of taxation direct and indirect, and to acquire rights in lands 
and minerals, which would not only afford a revenue for 
administration and defence, but also a prospect of profit. 
The Government of the day, ignoring the dictiun of Adam 
Smith that " the government of an exclusive company of 
merchants is perhaps the worst of all forms of government," ^ 
found an escape from its dilemma. Boyal Charters on the 
Elizabethan model were granted to three companies — ^the 
Eoyal Niger Company in the west, the Imperial British East 
African Company in the east, and the British South African 
in the south, with Mr (now Sir G.) Goldie, Sir W. Mackinnon, 
and Mr Cecil Ehodes as their founders. They were over- 
whelmed with volimteers eager for adventure. To protect 
them from foreign encroachments, the British Government 
soon found itself compelled to declare the greater part of its 
spheres of influence to be Protectorates, and the other nations 
did the same. In many of these Protectorates, no treaties 
had been made with outlying tribes, and regions as yet un- 
explored were included. 

The Foreign Office had at first hesitated to declare Protec- 
torates, because it had acquired no legal right to do so. How 
then could it grant charters which conferred powers of taxa- 
tion and rights to lands and minerals 1 The diEficulty was 
solved by a subterfuge unworthy of the high line hitherto 

^ ' Wealth of Nations," vol. ii. p. 302. 


taken by Great Britain. The precedent set by King Leopold 
of Belgium was, as we have seen, acclaimed by all the Powers, 
and more specifically by Britain, the United States, and 
Belgium, that " treaties " with the natives, by which they 
were supposed at short notice to have voluntarily ceded all 
their sovereign rights, were to be accepted as vaUd titles to 
the acquisition of the African tropics by the European nations. 
Alternatively by conquest, provided the natives were the 
aggressors — and this would not be difficult to demonstrate. 
It was easy to stipulate that the charter powers were based 
on the production of such treaties. The sensitive official 
conscience was salved by this expedient, the real significance 
of which it no doubt failed to appreciate.^ 

The civilised nations entered for the competition with 
avidity. Treaties were produced by the cartload in aU the 
approved forms of legal verbiage — ^impossible of translation 
by iU-educated interpreters.^ It mattered not that tribal 
chiefs had no power to dispose of communal rights, or that 
those few powerful potentates who might perhaps claim such 
authority looked on the white man's ambassador with con- 
tempt, and could hardly be expected to hand over their 
sovereignty and lands or other assets had they understood 
what was asked of them. The Sultan of Sokoto, for instance, 
regarded the subsidy promised to him by the chartered com- 
pany as tribute from a vassal. 

'■ Though the Congo treaties were, I think, the first to gain International 
recognition, treaty-making had begun at least as early as 1884, when Consul 
Hewitt made thirty -seven treaties in West Africa, and the National African Com- 
pany had made others dating from 1379. Hewitt's treaties, however, differ very 
essentially from those upon which King Leopold and the Chartered Companies 
in east and west founded their claims to territorial sovereignty. They stipu- 
lated that the Queen should extend to the chiefs and their territories "Her 
gracious favour and protection," while the chiefs undertook "to refrain from 
entering into any correspondence, agreement, or treaty with any foreign nation 
or Power, except with the knowledge and sanction of Her Majesty." Juris- 
diction over British subjects was ceded, and the chiefs engaged to act on the 
advice of the British Consuls. Under the East African Chartered Company's 
treaties, on the other hand, the chief declared that he placed himself and his 
people under the rule of the Company, and ceded to it all his sovereign rights 
and rights of government. The Nyasa treaties "give all sovereign rights and 
all and every other claim absolutely " over all their country to the Queen for all 
time. — See Herslet, 'Map of Africa by Treaty,' vol. i. p. 166, quoted by Ilbert, 
' Government of India,' p. 430. Also Hall, ' Foreign Jurisdiction of British 
Crown,' p. 217. 

^ In later and more advanced times, the best that an intelligent Mallam could 
make of the phrase " The Protectorate of N. Nigeria," was to render it as " The 
instruction of compassion of the Sudan," — thereby making absolute nonsense of 
the context. 


The treaties were duly attested by a cross, purporting to 
convey the assent of the African chief, and this was suf&cient. 
In some cases, it is said, the assent had been obtained by the 
gift of a pair of boots, or a few bottles of gin — the Kaiser had 
sent a parcel of opera-hats working with a spring. Else- 
where, by a show of force, or by vague promises, which were 
unrecorded and later ignored. Each nation pursued the 
course it preferred, or which its representative found most 

No sooner was " occupation " effected by virtue of these 
treaties, than the controUing Power usually found itself ia- 
volved iu hostOities with the people with whom these treaties 
of amity and friendship had been made. If, however, the 
treaty-maker were too honest, or the native chief too shrewd 
or too rapacious, it sufficed that the treaty should vest in 
the European aU jurisdiction over aUens. Here is the descrip- 
tion by Commandant Tout^e, one of the most successful of 
French treaty-makers : — 

" Quand un 6tat ou une tribu nfegre, pen importe, a commis 
I'imprudence grande de donner I'hospitaUt^ ^ un voyageur 
blanc, ce dernier n'a rien de plus press6 que de sorttr de sa 
poche un traits d'alliance tout imprim6, et de ses cantines 
un petit drapeau national. Le voyageur signe ce traits pour 
son propre compte et prie le roitelet, plus ou moins color^, 
d'ajouter sa signature k la sienne. 

"Si le potentat nhgre ne salt pas signer, comme ce dernier 
cas se pr^sente neuf fois sur dix, la haute partie contractante 
et civUis^e signe pour la deuxifeme suppos^e sauvage et le 
tour est jou4. 

" II est arriv^ meme quelquefois que le voyageur blanc, 
s'il est anglais surtout, a oublL6 de demander son nom au 
n^gre signataire, mais ce vice de forme n'a jamais 6t6 con- 
sider^ comme une cause s^rieuse de nullity du contrat." 

The ' Temps ' (March 1903) thus summarises the process : 
" One can see what it means : it is moral annexation. The 
evolution of colonial empires of this kiud follows a weU- 
known processus of which the stages are iu a measure ia- 
evitable : first, travellers, missionaries, and traders ; then 
treaties of commerce and friendship ; then a kiud of pro- 
tectorate half concealed under the form of an unequal aUi- 
ance ; afterwards the delimitation of spheres of iufluence and 
the declaration of a kind of right of priority ; then a protec- 


torate properly so called, the establishment of tutelage, the 
appointment of Eesidents and aU. that foUows in their train ; 
and finally, annexation pure and simple." 

It was thus that the conscience of Europe found relief. 
Ignorance of African conditions, and perhaps a latent feeling 
that the end justified the means, induced the rulers of the 
nations of Europe to accept these treaties without too close 
a scrutiny, and to persuade themselves that the omelette 
had been made without breaking any eggs.^ 

The frank assertion of the inexorable law of progress, based 
on the power to enforce it if need be, was termed " fili- 
bustering." It shocked the moral sense of a civilisation con- 
tent to accept the naked deception of "treaty-making," or to 
shut its eyes and ears and thank God for the results. 

In some cases the native ruler was himself an alien con- 
queror, holding in subjection tribes with which he had no 
aflfinity ; in others he was a despot (as in Benin, Uganda, 
Dahomey, or Zululand) exercising a bloody tyranny ; in 
others again, pagan tribes carried on an internecine warfare, 
and were powerless to defend themselves against organised 

In such circumstances it was surely more justifiable for 
the European Powers frankly to found their title to inter- 
vention upon force, and to admit that the chiefs, whom they 
recognised or appointed, derived their administrative and 
judicial powers from them, and exercised it with such limita- 
tions as they chose to impose, instead of assuming that they 
themselves derived the right of intervention through cessions 
of sovereignty, xmder the guise of " treaties," which were 
either not understood, or which the ruler had no power to 
make, and which rarely provided an adequate legal sanction 
for the powers assumed. 

The institution of courts of justice, the supervision of native 
courts, the protection of the peasantry from oppression by 
their rulers, and the deposition of the latter when incorrigible, 
the reorganisation or imposition of taxation for revenue, the 
prohibition of slave-raiding or slave-dealing, the restraint on 
firearms, liquor, and the destruction of game, the disposal 
in some cases of unused lands or minerals — in. a word, the 

^ For an alternative method of making treaties with natives, see "Treaty- 
making in Africa," ' Proceedings Royal Geographical Society,' January 1893, p. 54, 
and ' The Rise of Our East African Empire,' vol. ii. p. 579, by Captain Lugard. 



arbitrary enforcement of justice and good government and 
the safeguarding of natural resources, — all these are acts of 
sovereignty which no African chief would wiUingly concede 
by treaty to an unknown stranger, but which fifty and more 
nations of the world have now formally recognised as the 
essential duty of the Mandatory Powers, who under the cove- 
nant of the League are to be nominated as the protectors 
and trustees of backward races. For the civilised nations 
have at last recognised that white on the one hand the abound- 
iQg wealth of the tropical regions of the earth must be developed 
and used for the benefit of mankind, on the other hand an 
obligation rests on the controUing Power not only to safe- 
guard the material rights of the natives, but to promote their 
moral and educational progress. 

The recognition of these great principles does away with 
the " make believe " of the former illogical system, by which 
the controlling Power, basing its rights on treaty, arbitrarily ex- 
ercised sovereign powers often incompatible with those treaties, 
whUe admitting (in particiilar cases) the right of a petty kinglet 
to deflect the course of a railway, to restrict trade by arbitrary 
taxes and toUs, and to oppress the peasantry at will. 

The problem of the methods of acquisition was followed by 
the problem of the methods of exercising control. The first 
British experiment was, as I have said, that of chartered 
companies, whose powers, so far as they related to the exercise 
of sovereignty and jurisdiction over the natives, were based 
on treaties with the chiefs, and were circimiscribed by the 
necessity of obtaining the assent of the home Government 
to their local regulations, and the vis6 of their accounts. 
Their status vis-d-vis foreign Powers was that of delegates 
of the British Crown. Their obhgations were to establish 
that effective occupation and control which was called for 
by the Continental Powers, and by the Press and Public of 
England. It was immaterial whether the area of their opera- 
tions was a sphere of influence or a Protectorate. 

Before discussing the meaning of this latter term, it will 
be worth while to review very briefly the results of the char- 
tered company experiment. The modern adaptation of the 
instrument by which the Hudson's Bay Company had added 
the Dominion of Canada, and the East India Company had 
secured India to the Empire, and to which some of our Ameri- 
can colonies had owed their origin, cannot fail to be of interest, 


the more so that, with the exception of Borneo, the new 
experiment was confined to tropical Africa. 

The three chariiered companies differed greatly in their 
methods. The Eoyal Mger Company, which was the first 
to obtain its charter (July 1886), held it for thirteen years. 
It was conducted on business lines as an amalgamation of 
various existing commercial interests, with a lucrative trade. 
Prom the outset it incurred the bitter hostility of the Liver- 
pool merchants, who complained that though the charter 
conferred no monopolistic rights, these had in practice been 
created. The company, while denying the charge, held that 
a measure of exclusive privilege was necessary to enable them 
to meet the cost of administration, which their rivals in 
trade had not to incur. 

The charter included vast territories in the north, from 
Sokoto to Lake Chad, controlled by very powerful Moslem 
rulers, with most of whom the company had made treaties, 
but its resources were not sufficient to enable it to comply 
at once with the dictum of " effective occupation," and 
French aggression on its frontier was the primary cause 
which compelled the intervention of the Imperial Govern- 
ment. It was not, of course, easy to secure capital for interior 
development while the commercial possibilities of the regions 
nearer to the coast offered much more tempting returns for 
investment. The achievement of its founders lay in the fact 
that they had succeeded in amalgamating all European in- 
terests on the Mger, and were thus enabled at the Berlin 
Conference to claim on behalf of Great Britain the custodian- 
ship of its free navigation. 

The inherent defect of aU chartered government, where 
dividends to shareholders must inevitably compete with ad- 
ministrative expenditure, formed the chronic obstacle to the 
desires of its patriotic directors. But if the exigencies of the 
company's finance did not admit of effective administration, 
it may honourably claim that, unlike the Congo State of those 
days, the natives were not subjected to any form of forced 
labour, or even to any direct tax, while the introduction of 
spirits in the north, from which a large revenue would have 
accrued, was prohibited.^ The baleful system of the " domain 

' That spirits had already begun to penetrate is clear from the appeal of 
Maleki, Emir of Nupe, a Moslem state. — " United Liquor Committee " Keport, 
November 1886, p. 31. 


piiv^ " of the Congo State — of leasing lands and forests for 
exploitation by private concessionaires — ^was imknown, and 
the right of the native to his land and produce was not inter- 
fered -with. He received a fair price, albeit his market was 
practically restricted to the company's depots.^ 

Germany in the east was no less keen a competitor for the 
control of the tropics than France in the west. Not content 
with the vast regions comprised in German East Africa, she 
threatened to absorb Uganda and the Nile sources. Sir Wm. 
Mackinnon — a man of large fortune — obtained in 1888 a 
Eoyal Charter, with the patriotic object of securing for the 
Empire the area which had been declared a British sphere of 
influence. His co-directors were almost all men pre-eminent 
for their public services, including Lord Lome, Lord Brassey, 
Sir J. Kirk, Sir A. KembaU, Sir L. PeUy, Sir F. Buxton, 
Sir D. Stewart, and Mr Burdett-Coutts. It was the great 
misfortune, however, of the company that at the crucial 
moment of its inauguration it was deprived of the unrivalled 
experience of Sir John Kirk, who alone of the directors had 
personal knowledge of East Africa, by his appointment as 
British Plenipotentiary at the Brussels Conference. The com- 
pany did not enter into the heritage of a " going concern " 
as the Eoyal Niger Company had done. The country was 
entirely unexplored, and such little trade as existed was in 
the hands of the Zanzibar Arabs, who were already in revolt 
against the Germans, and bitterly resented the measures 
taken by Great Britain to put an end to their trade in slaves. 

The company had only recently been inaugurated when 
the notorious Karl Peters by way of the Tana river, and 
Emin Pasha as a German emissary by the southern route, 
started with the object of annexing Uganda. The British 
public and the Foreign Ofiice looked to the company to secuie 
effective occupation of a coimtry 800 nules from the coast — 
from which it was separated by the warlike Masai tribe — 
ere yet its headquarters had been fuUy established at its 
coast port. Already it had sent an exploring expedition 
thither in the hope of assisting Stanley in his quest for Emin. 
It was not slow to respond to the new caU. The German 
projects were frustrated — Uganda and the Nile sources, so 
vital to Egypt, were secured. 

But no revenue was coming in, and private funds could 

' Re this monopoly see Sir J. Kirk'e report, Africa, 3, 1896. 


not indefinitely sustain tlie heavy cost incurred. Moreover, 
owing to the withdrawal by the Sultan of Zanzibar, acting 
on the advice of H.M.'s Government, of the reserves under 
which he had adhered to the Berlin Act, the company was 
deprived of the revenue from import and export duties, which 
were, it maintained, an integral part of the terms of the 
concession from the Sultan under which it had acquired its 
rights, and upon which it had based its fiscal poUcy.^ The 
company's Board consisted chiefly of administrators, and its 
earliest efforts had been directed to administration rather 
than to commerce. It appealed to the home Government 
for assistance, on the grounds that it had gone to Uganda 
on the mandate of the nation. But Lord Eosebery was dis- 
inclined to assist, and the company was forced to surrender 
its charter in 1895, after an existence of only six and a half 

In spite of its apparent failure it had, like the Mger Com- 
pany, succeeded in its great purpose. It had secured East 
Africa and Uganda, when the Government of the day was 
imwilling to move. For a moment there had been misgivings 
lest Mr Gladstone should abandon the results which the 
company had achieved at such sacrifice. The edict went 
forth that Uganda should be evacuated, and with it a large 
part of East Africa. But the feehng of the nation was too 
strong for the Government, and supported the company's 
continued and disinterested efforts for the " retention of 
Uganda." A Protectorate was declared, and a new British 
flag replaced the company's tattered ensign. The salubrious 
highlands of East Africa, the kingdoms of Uganda and 
Unyoro, with boundaries co-terminous with the Congo State 
on the west, and with Abyssinia and the Egyptian Sudan 
in the north, the continuous control of the Nile from its 
sources in the great Victoria and Albert Lakes, were secured 
to the Empire. 

The credit due to the Mger Company for its treatment of 
the natives, and its exclusion of the concessionaire, is shared 
by the Imperial British East African Company. 

A great part of the territory covered by the third charter — 
that of the British South African Company — ^lay south of 
the Zambesi, within the temperate or sub-tropical zone, and 

1 See Memo, by Sir J. Kirk. ' British East Africa,' by P. L. M'Dermott, p. 


therefore colonisable by Europeans. It was contiguous to 
the colonies and Protectorates under the control of the 
Colonial OfBce, and it therefore (unlike the other two) came 
under the control of that office. The Duke of Fife was its 
chairman, but the dominating personaUty and the founder 
was Mr Cecil Ehodes. The charter was granted iu October 
1889, and stiU continues. By the Northern Ehodesia Order 
in Council of 4th May 1911 its powers were extended in 
respect of territories north of the Zambesi. 

The South African Company had to deal with conditions 
for the most part very dissimilar to those which had con- 
fronted the other two. Its territories, with a population 
estimated at four to the square mile, had no access to the 
sea, and the construction of railways was the first neces- 
sity. It was believed to contain great mineral wealth, and 
its frontiers marched with territories already peopled by a 
considerable European population, largely concerned in the 
mining industry, who hastened to peg out claims in the 
company's territory. The ordinary trade in raw materials 
and foodstuffs was hampered by lack of transport and dis- 
tance from a seaport. The wealth of the founders, Messrs 
Ehodes and Beit, and the patriotism and confidence in the 
future of its other shareholders, rendered it possible, as in 
East Africa, to dispense with immediate dividends. The 
company rapidly became the parent of many subsidiary cor- 
porations, which imdertook the exploitation of its mineral 
wealth, the construction of its railways, and even the pro- 
vision of the requirements of its principal cities. The char- 
tered company, by virtue of its rights in lands and minerals, 
whether acquired by treaties or inherent in it as a govern- 
ment, retained a substantial interest in these concerns, whose 
shares, of course, became the subject of Stock Exchange 
dealings. As the European population increased, the inevi- 
table demand for the revocation of the charter and the sub- 
stitution of self-government in Southern Ehodesia arose — a 
matter which was, of course, comphcated by the expenditure 
incurred by the company. 

North of the Zambesi, the pressing demand for immediate 
effective occupation, which had overwhelmed the other two 
companies, did not arise in so acute a form, though Belgium 
succeeded in extending her frontiers to include the valuable 
mineral districts of Katanga, and Germany was anxious to 


encroach to the south of Tanganyika. Treaties were made 
and frontiers settled, and the company was free to open up 
the country gradually. 

Germany had coveted these regions — especially south of 
the Zambesi — and it was due to the Chartered Company and 
its great founder, Cecil Ehodes, that the British flag now 
flies from the Cape to the Lakes Tanganyika and Nyasa.^ 

From this brief review of the causes which gave rise to the 
creation of chartered companies in the nineteenth century 
some interesting reflections arise. That they are at best an 
imperfect form of government was shown conclusively by 
Adam Smith one hundred and fifty years ago, and modern 
experience has only confirmed his arguments.^ But it is due 
to their agency alone that over a million square miles of 
tropical Africa, with a population of over twenty-five miUions, 
has been added to the British Empire. In contrast to foreign 
methods they afford a striking illustration of the way in which 
individual enterprise has ever in our history anticipated the 
action of government.' They came forward at a moment 
when the Government, compelled by the action of other 
Powers to take some decision, not imnatuxaUy shirked the 
responsibihty of directly administering great regions, at a 
cost of which no estimate could be made. They formed a 
buffer between the Imperial Government and foreign States, 
which reduced the risks of international friction and of war, 
and their temporary reverses did not involve Imperial prestige. 
Alike from their successes and their failures the Government 
was enabled to obtain most valuable experience, so that when 

' "In 1890," said the chairman at the last annual meeting, "Rhodesia, a 
country as large as Central Europe, was sparsely inhabited by uncivilised and 
barbarous peoples, who were hunted and raided by the strongest amongst them. 
After thirty years of Chartered administration we see them immensely advanced 
in numbers, order, contentment, and wealth. . . ■ Should His Majesty's Govern- 
ment decide that Southern Rhodesia is fit for self-government, we shall cordially 
concur in their decision. What higher tribute could possibly be paid to a cor- 
poration such as ours, than to pronounce that in thirty years it had brought a 
great territory from a state of primitive savagery to a condition in which it is fit 
to take its place among the self-governing dominions of the Crown." — Report, 
28th October 1920. 

^ Mr Kidd, writing in 1897, says: "Government by chartered company is 
the oldest, the most indefensible, and in theory the most reprehensible of all 
forms of government in the tropics." — ' Control of the Tropics,' p. 38. 

3 Compare Adam Smith : " In one way, and one way alone, has the policy of 
Europe contributed to the first establishment or the present grandeur of the 
colonies of America. It bred and formed the men who were capable of achieving 
such great? actions, and of laying the foundations of so great an Empire." — 
' Wealth of Nations,' Bk. iv. p. 400. 


the time should come to substitute direct Imperial rule, a 
more or less adequate knowledge of the nature of the task 
was available. 

On the other hand, the Government incurred unknown 
UabiMties. Ill-advised action on the part of a chartered com- 
pany might at any time involve the Government in serious 
controversy with a foreign Power. Moreover, the bUl of costs 
on revocation of the charter could be checked by no satis- 
factory standard. Expensive mistakes must be paid for by 
the British taxpayer, or iona-fide expenditure by the company 
repudiated, with scant justice to shareholders who had sub- 
scribed their money from motives of patriotism. Supposed 
assets in land and minerals may prove untenable by Govern- 
ment. Plantations and plant suitable to an industrial or 
commercial company may find no purchasers. If rights in 
land or minerals acquired by the company have already been 
disposed of to third parties, a new difficulty arises. 

The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council has recently 
ruled that if the Government cancels the charter of the British 
South African Company, it is Uable for aU its administrative 
deficits — a riding which would have made much difference to 
the unfortunate shareholders of the East African Company. 
Over the company's expenditure the Government had exer- 
cised little or no practical control, and prior to the decision 
of the Privy Council it had been assumed that the land and 
minerals belonged to and would remain the property of the 
company if the charter were revoked.^ 

In the case of the Niger charter. Government compounded 
for its own advantage by giving the expropriated company 
a share in the minerals of the country. This forms a heavy 
and increasing burden on the local government which follows 
the company. It is short-sighted, because the minerals which 
an undeveloped country may contain are, of course, of un- 

' The claim amounted to £8,800,000 plua accumulated interest on the yearly 
deficits, less receipts from lands — about a million. Lord Cave's Commission has 
since awarded the Company £4,400,000 plus £830,000 for public works, less the 
value of lands appropriated by the Company, or disposed of otherwise than for 
cash. Lord Milner, in his Memo, of December 1920, informed the elected 
members of the Rhodesian Legislative Council that responsible government 
would be granted if the demand was persisted in. The new government would 
be responsible for a sum of about IJ million, the remaining liability to the Com- 
pany being met by sales of unalienated land. — See Cmd. 547 of 1920, pp. 40 and 
52, Cd. 1129 (Privy Council award), Cd. 1273 of 1921 (Lord Milner's Memo.), and 
Cd. 7645, appendix i. 


known value. A parallel may be found in the land rights 
retained by the Hudson's Bay Company when it agreed to 
the transfer of the North-West Territory to the Canadian 
Government. The value of these lands and minerals will, 
of course, increase in proportion to subsequent expenditure 
by the local government and private enterprise, briaging an 
automatic profit to the origiaal shareholders, or more often 
to those who had subsequently acquired the shares. It would 
seem preferable that whatever compensation is paid for the 
revocation of a charter should accrue to those who risked 
their money in the original venture, rather than that a specu- 
lative benefit should be conferred on the changing holders 
of the shares of the commercial company which succeeds it. 
Whatever may be said for a bargain of this kind, i£ contracted 
with the natives of the country, whose descendants continue 
to benefit, it is inapplicable to the conditions of a trading 

The chartered company experiment, even though it be a 
bad form of government, may be said to have been justified 
by its results for the Empire. The experience gained has 
taught us many lessons, among which I venture to think 
that the following may be included. 

A chartered company should obtain its administrative 
revenue rather from funds raised by the ordinary methods 
of a government than from its commercial profits, and the 
latter should be strictly limited to sources equally open to 
its competitors. From customs and taxes, &c., paid equally 
by its commercial branch as by its rivals, it should be in- 
creasingly able to derive an adequate revenue for adminis- 
trative purposes. In the early years, while they are still 
uisufflcient, they must be supplerhented by loans from its 
commercial branch, or if need be from the Imperial Ex- 
chequer. Its dual functions of administration and commerce 
should in fact be kept whoUy distinct. Though its adminis- 
trative machinery need not be so elaborate and expensive 
as that of the Imperial Government, the officers engaged in 
administrative and judicial work should be separate from 
those engaged in commerce, for it is impossible to maintain 
the prestige of a Government (upon which so much depends 
in Africa) if its officers have at one moment to drive a trade 
bargain, and presently to act in a magisterial capacity towards 
the same parties. H in a distant and unimportant district 


a commercial agent should be caUed upon to act as an adminis- 
trative officer, he shoidd do so by virtue of a commission as 
Justice of the Peace. 

The charter should not only preclude the possibility of 
monopolies, direct or indirect, or any form of preference in 
favour of the charter in the matter of customs dues, &c., 
but railways and river transport services should be provided 
and maintained from administrative fimds, and the com- 
mercial branch should enjoy no privileges, either in rates 
or priority of despatch, over its competitors. Coinage must 
be guaranteed by an adequate reserve, and aU the servants 
of the administration (including the troops and native em- 
ployees) should be paid in the legal currency, and not in 
" barter goods " at values arbitrarily fixed by the employer. 

In view of the dubious right of chiefs to alienate lands 
belonging to the community, and their total inability to 
estimate the value of such grants, the charter should lay 
down explicitly the principles to be observed in dealing with 
lands and minerals. These principles should be identical with 
those observed in colonies and protectorates administered by 
the Crown. The administrative branch of the company in its 
governmental capacity should alone be competent to acquire 
rights in perpetuity in lands and minerals, acting as trustee 
for the natives on the one hand, and as custodian for the 
development of the country for the needs of civilised man- 
kind on the other. It would grant leases to private com- 
panies and individuals — ^including its commercial branch — 
on reasonable and proper terms, the proceeds by way of 
rents, royalties, &c., being spent as administrative revenue 
only. If the charter is revoked, the Government which 
succeeds it would inherit that revenue without compensation. 
Actions at law, to which the Imperial Government and the 
chartered company are parties — such as that recently before 
the Privy Council— indicate a lack of foresight and a loose- 
ness of conception in those responsible for drafting the charter. 
Finally, a chartered company's reports should fully explain 
its laws and general progress, and its administrative revenue 
and expenditure, in order that the nation may know how its 
delegated sovereignty over native races is being exercised. 

It would be an interesting task to trace in some detail the 
fortunes of the earlier charters granted to the Hudson's Bay 
Company, the East India Company, and the Exeter Merchants 


in West Africa, but it lies outside the scope of my present 
work. The " Merchant Adventurers " of the sixteenth cen- 
tury sought a Eoyal Charter to secure a monopoly of trade. 
They fought their own battles against French, Spanish, 
Dutch, and Portuguese, and the East India Company was 
empowered to seize ships and goods of any traders not 
Hcensed by itself, and to inflict " imprisonment, or such 
punishment as for so high a contempt shall seem meet and 
convenient." ^ The Hudson's Bay Company complained of 
the " Free-Traders " who robbed it of its profits, and the 
West African merchants made the same complaint regarding 
their rivals, whom they called the " Interlopers." ^ But 
Parliament did not greatly favour these monopoUes granted 
by the Crown, and in 1698 private traders were recognised 
on the West African coast.^ 

But to say that the East India Company's conquests and 
administrative successes were merely " a bye-product of trade, 
which was the real object aimed at,"* is to ignore the spirit 
of the resolution passed as early as 1689 : " The increase of 
our revenue is the subject of our care as much as our trade ; 
'tis that must maintain our force when twenty accidents may 
interrupt our trade ; 'tis that must make us a nation in 
India ; without that we are but a great number of inter- 
lopers united by a Eoyal Charter, fit only to trade where 
nobody of power thinks it their interest to prevent us, and 
upon this ground it is that the wise Dutch in aU their general 
advices that we have seen write ten paragraphs concerning 
their government, their civil and military pohcy, welfare and 
the increase of their revenue, for one paragraph they write 
concerning trade." ^ 

Nearly a century later the East India Company's adminis- 
tration acquired legal sanction from the Moghul Emperor, 
and Parliament at once questioned the right of a trading 
company to acquire territorial sovereignty. For this privi- 
lege they were caUed upon to pay £400,000 per anmma to the 
home Government tOl 1773, when the Begulating Acts, 
which culminated in Pitt's Act of 1784, brought the whole 
machinery of administration under the control of Whitehall. 

^ ' Government of India,' Ilbert, pp. 5, 6. 

^ 'A Tropical Dependency,' Lady Lugard, p. 239. 

^ Adam Smith, vol. iii. p. 125. 

* 'German Colonies," Sir H. Clififord, p. 28. 

' Ilbert, loc. cit., p. 25. 


About the same time (1765) the whole coast of West Africa 
was declared to be exempt from the jurisdiction of the African 
Company (already deprived of monopoly, " regulated " and 
subsidised though it was), and vested in the Crown for the 
free trade of His Majesty's subjects.^ Crippled by the aboli- 
tion of the slave-trade, the company was finally dissolved 
in 1821. 

Meanwhile monopoly rights (except as regards China) were 
withdrawn from the East India Company in 1813, and finally 
abolished in 1833. From this date it was required to wind 
up its commercial affairs, and was vested with administrative 
powers only, imder the strict control of the home Govern- 
ment, by whom its Governor-General was appointed.^ It 
continued to hold its territories " in trust for His Majesty " 
tm superseded in 1858. 

Even so brief an outline as this wiU serve to illustrate the 
growth of the conception of charters. Begioning with a 
trade monopoly, the older charters gradually acquired admin- 
istrative powers, for the exercise of which the East India 
Company had actually to pay the British taxpayer. To- 
wards the close of the eighteenth century, ParUament 
began to " regulate " them, to withdraw the monopoly, and 
to charge them with administrative functions only, till the 
Imperial Government was ready to supersede them. The 
modem charter, on the other hand, started as an administra- 
tion, the expenses of which were to be met from commercial 
profits — in theory to be exercised without monopoly. For 
protection against foreign aggression, and even in case of 
serious internal trouble, it had to look to the home Govern- 
ment. Thus the old charters were in theory monopolistic 
trading companies, and when they assimied administrative 
functions, the monopoUes were revoked and they became 
Governmental agencies, with no trading fimctions. The 
modern charter, on the other hand, was created for adminis- 
tration, and when the charter was withdrawn it was left as 
a trading company only, and without monopoly. 

We have seen that the scramble for Africa and the demand 
for effective occupation hurried the Government of the day 
into the declaration of spheres of influence and the creation 

^ Adam Smith, vol. iii. p. 125. 

= Ilbert, loo. cit., p. 65, from whom the chief facts regarding the East India 
Company are taken. 


of chartered companies, upon whom should fall the respon- 
sibility for the three largest areas acquired by Great Britain. 
There were, however, some smaller areas which were acquired 
by a dijEferent method. The West African " colonies " at this 
time (1889) consisted of small settlements on the coast. 
Little or no attempt to develop their hinterlands was made 
until in 1895-96, France, in pursuance of her pohcy of linking 
up her various possessions in West Africa, alleging with truth 
the absence of any effective occupation, seized the iaterior 
lands, and threatened the territory immediately contiguous 
to these colonies. Mr Hanotaux ia 1896 claimed that she 
" thus gave effect to the hinterland pohcy before it had 
received a name," but her action was ia fact a violation of 
the policy. Under Mr Chamberlain's energetic direction each 
of these colonies now bestirred itself to secure what was left 
of its hinterland. An epidemic of treaty-making and expedi- 
tions ensued, and eventually frontiers were fixed and de- 
Umited, but not without " incidents " at Waima (Sierra 
Leone), Wa (Gold Coast), and Meko, Kissi, and Borgu (Mgeria). 

The limited areas thus secured were at once declared 
Protectorates. The hinterland of the Oil Elvers, which had 
now become the " Mger Coast Protectorate," was safe, for 
the chartered company formed a buffer between it and foreign 
aggression. British authority was represented by a Consul- 
General, with several Consuls and Vice-Consuls distributed 
along the coast. In its new rdle as an administrative depart- 
ment the Foreign Oflfice now vested these officials with judicial 
and administrative authority over the natives of the country. 

Consular officers in Africa had indeed played unusual parts 
for some time. Back in the 'sixties, in the early days of 
African exploration, Livingstone, accredited to the chiefs in 
the interior, with no jurisdiction or place of abode, had been 
granted consular rank to facilitate his work as a traveller. 
Later in 1878 Captain Foote, R.N'., was appoiuted Consul in 
I^yasaland — at that time under the protection of no Euro- 
pean Power — ^with instructions to watch and report on the 
slave trade, and accredited by letters from Her Majesty to 
the slave-trading chiefs. It did not enhance British prestige 
that he was necessarily without power or influence. Shortly 
before I reached IJTyasa in 1888 his successor had been seized 
and stripped naked, and his life was only spared in considera- 
tion of a ransom ; while British subjects, whom he was power- 


to protect, were fighting for their lives at Karonga's 
against the slave-trading Arabs. The Consul-General in 
Southern Mgeria was, however, fully empowered as an ad- 
ministrator. He collected revenue from customs, and differed 
only in title from the Governors or High Commissioners 
appointed by the Colonial Office. 

As the jealousy and friction between Great Britain and 
France, which had marked the era of acquisition, gave place 
to more cordial relations, it became possible to facilitate each 
other's task by reciprocal courtesies, such as extradition of 
fugitive crimiaals, &c. The need for co-operation is sufQ- 
ciently patent, and on the whole it may be said that African 
administrators have been wonderfully successful in avoiding 
friction, which it is obvious might easily be generated by a 
thousand incidents, along hundreds of miles of frontiers, 
where systems of rule and of taxation differ, and communities 
are apt to migrate over the frontiers on the smallest provoca- 
tion. There are many directions in which this co-operation 
might be carried still further. 

That the diversity of British methods of acquisition and 
control might lack nothing in completeness, we find the India 
Office controlling Berbera, and parts of the Somali Coast 
from its base to Aden — a survival of the time when the 
British representative at Zanzibar was an Indian appoint- 

At a later date, in the equatorial NUe basin, the Foreign 
Office, which already controlled such vast areas in tropical 
Africa, either directly through its Consuls or indirectly through 
chartered companies, exercised yet a third form of control 
through the shadowy segis of the Khedive of Egypt, whose 
sovereign rights, based on conquest, had lapsed through the 
Mahdist revolt, and accrued by the same right to the con- 
querors when the Mahdi was defeated. Here again a failure 
to define our claims brought us into conflict with the French 
theory of so-called effective occupation, represented by Colonel 
Marchant's expedition to Fashoda in 1895.^ 

1 In a series of very interesting articles the special correspondent of the 
'Times' (April 1900) sketches "the opening of the Sudan." Here sovereic^n 
rights were at once assumed by the conquerors, and a Governor-General vi°as 
appointed with unlimited autocratic powers. "He unites in himself and dele- 
gates from himself, all legislative, executive, and judicial powers. He' is his own 
parliament, his own prime minister, his own chief justice, and his own com- 
mander-in-chief. He 'notifies' his ordinances to the joint sovereigns (the 


The Foreign Office, in tlie exercise of its proper functions 
of conducting the delicate negotiations regarding territorial 
claims and boundaries, had thus by the force of circumstances 
found itself responsible for the greater part of British tropical 
Africa. It was an unwelcome rdle, at variance with its tradi- 
tions, nor did it possess the proper machinery, or the reserve 
of trained officials from which to draw for its administrative 
staff. Gradually, as the rivalries of foreign Powers were 
adjusted and frontiers fixed, these territories — ^including the 
protected State of Zanzibar, but not the Egyptian Sudan — 
were transferred to the charge of the Colonial Office. 

British and Khedival Governments), but he is under no obhgation to attend to 
their advice." Such was the origin of rule in the Sudan— in striking contrast to 
the orthodox regime which the Colonial Office endeavoured to impose from the 
very earliest days of its administration, in those parts of Africa for which it was 




Meaning of terms — The sphere of influence — Protectorates — In India — 
In Africa — Status of the people — Crown colonies — Suggested modifi- 
cation of status — Registration of British subjects — Tropics misnamed 
" colonies " — Self-governing colonies — Colonies on tropical plateaux — 
Asiatic colonisation — Contrast of temperate and tropical development 
— Value of tropical products — Area and population of British tropical 
Africa— The example of India. 

The " sphere of influence " had served its purpose, and the 
tropical African dependencies have now become " protec- 
torates " and " Crown colonies." It is essential to an under- 
standiug of the evolution of these territories that we should 
have some clear conception of what these terms connote. 

The sphere of influence, as we have seen from the circum- 
stances in which it origLaated, " is a term to which no very 
definite meaning is attached. ... It represents an under- 
standing which enables a State to reserve to itseLE a right of 
excluding other European Powers from territories that are 
of importance to it politically or strategically. . . . Ifo juris- 
diction is assimied, no internal or external sovereign power 
is taken out of the hands of the tribal chiefs," says Hall.'^ 
While foreign interference would be regarded as an ujofriendly 
act, it is understood that " within a reasonable time a more 
solid form wiU be imparted to the civilised authority." Juris- 
diction is limited to British subjects, and would be exercised 
over foreigners only with their own consent, or that of their 
State, and over natives as a result of treaties. 

" Protectorates " are difficult to define, but in aU cases the 

' See Hall's ' Foreign Jurisdiction of the British Crown,' on which these para- 
graphs are based, pp. 228-234. Sir C. Ilbert similarly describes it, ' Government 
of India, 'p. 431, note. 


protected State has parted with its freedom of action in foreign 
affairs. The control exercised over the protected native 
States of India varies according to their standing. The 
Mzam of Hydrabad, who rules over 83,000 square mUes and 
a population of eleven miUions, imposes taxes, coins money, 
inflicts capital punishment without appeal, and maintains a 
powerful contingent of troops ; while Kathiwar, the lord of 
a few acres, exercises only a shadow of judicial authority, 
but is exempt from British taxation.^ 

Generally speaking, the Government of India controls the 
relations of the States towards each other, and since it guar- 
antees a ruler against dethronement by his subjects, it accepts 
a limited responsibility for preventing misrule, as well as for 
the safety of British subjects and aliens. To ensure justice 
to these it may enforce extra-territorial jurisdiction. Land 
may be required for railways, and co-operation is expected 
against external aggression. To give effect to these obliga- 
tions a Eesident is appointed to the Court of the native 
ruler. His influence in a minor State, or over a weak or 
vicious ruler, may be very considerable. ^ 

The African protectorates were for the most part declared 
over uncivilised territories, in which (since the native Govern- 
ments were incapable of maintaining law and order) there were 
instituted courts of law and poHce for the benefit of both 
Europeans and natives. With some exceptions, therefore, such 
as Egypt and Zanzibar, they bear little resemblance to the 
protected States of India, though, as we shall see, the method 
of rule in the Moslem States of Nigeria has some analogies. 

Great Britain for long held the view that the declaration 
of a protectorate conferred no power or obligation except 
towards British subjects, but it was evident that aU the other 
signatories of the BerUn Act maintained that it conferred 
jurisdiction over the subjects of other civilised States as well 
as over the natives. The Act contemplated, and indeed 
prescribed (Arts. 30-32), extensive assumption of internal 
sovereignty by the protecting Power. It is true that the Act 
had reference to coast protectorates only, but, as Hall re- 
marks, since these differ from interior protectorates only in 
that the difficulty of maintaining effective jurisdiction in the 
latter is greater, it may be assumed that the powers were 
not restricted to coast protectorates. 

1 Ilbert, p. 204. ^ Ilbert, pp. 142-146, &c. 



The Brussels Act carried these principles further, and en- 
joined progressive administration and judicial organisation — 
terms which amount to the recognition, as a principle of 
iQtemational law, that ia an unciviHsed country the protect- 
ing Power is charged with the duty of estabUshing adminis- 
trative and judicial institutions. The British attitude, based 
on the exploded theory of the indivisibility of sovereignty, 
continued to be held tenaciously, even though, as we have 
seen (p. 13), Lord SaUsbury had in 1887 clearly accepted the 
other view. In Zanzibar, therefore, jurisdiction was based on 
treaty,^ and there and in Somaliland foreigners were only 
amenable by consent. The African Order in Council 1889, 
by which jurisdiction was assumed over foreigners and natives 
in those protectorates to which it was applied, was supple- 
mented by the South African Order of 1891, and the Pacific 
Order of 1893, which asserts jurisdiction over both classes, 
irrespective of consent. The principles of the latter were 
applied to regions contiguous to the Gold Coast, to which 
neither the African Order nor the Berlin Act were applicable. 
The Matabeleland Order went even further. Already the 
South African Charter had conferred complete jurisdiction, 
and the High Commissioner of South Africa was similarly 
empowered in regard to the protectorates under his con- 
trol. The Eoyal Mger Company also exercised a like 
jurisdiction, based so far as the natives were concerned on 

However complicated and unnecessary this multiplicity of 
Instruments may seem to a layman, it is clear that at the 
time when Hall wrote (1894), and still more when Ilbert 
published his book (1898), Great Britain had finally accepted 
the view that " exercise of jurisdiction over aU persons within 
a protected country is necessary, where native administrative 
and judicial organisation is inadequate," both on behalf of 
foreigners who are deprived of the protection of their own 

^ Even as late as October 1907 it was considered necessary for the Sultan of 
AVitu, whose petty state " forms part of the territories known as the British East 
African Protectorate," to announce by proclamation that the laws of British 
East Africa applied to and were in force in his territory. The administration 
of the Zanzibar Protectorate was transferred from the Foreign to the Colonial 
Office in April 1914, and an Advisory Council, without legislative power, to be 
convened at the discretion of the British Resident, with four official and three 
unofficial members, was set up, with the Sultan as president. The High Com- 
missioner was hardly justified in describing this as "complete autonomy and 
independence." — Zanzibar Report, 1914, Cd. 7622 of 1915, pp. 28, 29. 


State, and on behalf of natives against foreigners.^ Such 
powers are, " so far as they go, identical with those which 
the Crown would have in a conquered country. ... It can 
prescribe laws until Parliament chooses to legislate. It can 
subject to its administration aU persons upon the protected 
soil." 2 

We arrive, then, at the general conclusion that " for pur- 
poses of municipal law an African Protectorate is not, but 
for purposes of international law must be treated as if it 
were, a part of British dominions." ' 

In some cases a community whose independence had been 
specifically recognised by treaty — as, for instance, the Egbas 
in Southern Nigeria — ^were nevertheless included in a protec- 
torate — a contradiction of terms which involved so many 
anomalies that the treaty was denounced at last by mutual 

Thus the term " protectorate " gradually changed its mean- 
ing from that of a pact with the ruler of a State, which 
maintained its internal but not its external sovereignty, to 
a declaration of the territorial status of a region included in 
the Empire, in which not only the external, but in varying 
degrees the internal sovereignty also, had passed to the 
controlling Power, in many cases (since unexplored regions 
were included) without even the " treaty " consent of the 
people. Powers of administration coequal with those of a 
colony have been assumed. 

The inhabitants of a British protectorate are styled " British 

1 libert, p. 433. Hall, p. 219, 

^ Hall, p. 225. Sir S. Olivier writes : " Effective occupation and the capacity 
to enforce the law of the sovereign power are a recognised condition of the right 
to assert sovereignty. " — 'Contemp. Review,' Jan. 1919. 

' Ilbert, p. 431. 

■* International conventions relative to firearms and spirits were made appli- 
cable to African protectorates by the Crown. The convention enforcing the 
protection of wild animals, however, did not deal with imported articles, in the 
interests of the natives themselves, but curtailed rights hardly less jealously 
cherished than rights in land. Extra-territorial jurisdiction may be justified on 
behalf of foreigners, but the claim to exercise it on behalf of wild animals, birds, 
and fishes, and to make it an offence to kill an elephant though destroying crops, 
is an assumption of internal sovereignty hardly compatible with "independence." 
On the other hand, it has been suggested on high authority that the inde- 
pendence recognised by the treaty was only intended to mean "independence 
from other native control, " and was in effect construed in that way. Prior to 
amalgamation in Nigeria I found that " neither the Colonial Office nor the Chief 
Justice had any clear idea as to what jurisdiction the Crown could legally exercise, 
or what executive powers were under the treaties vested in the Colonial Govern- 
ment" in the Lagos Protectorate. — Cmd. 468, 1920, sect. 17. 


protected persons," and do not enjoy the status of British 
subjects, although, as HaU points out,i the term "British 
subject " is defined in the African Order 1889 as " including 
aU persons enjoying His Majesty's protection." The " natives," 
however, are separately defined as "the subjects of any 
country within the Umits of this Order not being British sub- 
jects." The wording is therefore ambiguous, but in practice 
the natives of a protectorate, who do not already enjoy the 
status of British subjects, have apparently no rights or privi- 
leges either within or beyond the limits of the protectorate. 
A " British protected " SomaU complains in the ' Times ' that 
although his people have been called on to fight for the 
Empire, they are ineUgible for the Merchant Service because 
they are not British subjects.^ 

A Crown colony is annexed territory, and an integral part 
of the Bang's dominions, acquired either by conquest, settle- 
ment, or cession,^ and since aU persons born in it have the 
status of British subjects, herein appeared to reside the chief 
distinction between it and a protectorate. The injustice of 
such a distinction may be seen, for example, in the case of 
the Lagos Colony, whose boundaries had never been defined, 
and were unknown to the judicial officers until the amalgama- 
tion of 1st January 1914. They intersect tribes, and include 
many who are still in the very lowest stage of primitive 

1 Hall, p. 128. 

^ 'Times,' 7th August 1920. Subjects of the Indian native states are not 
British subjects. — Ilbert, pp. 436-457. The judge of the High Court of Mombasa 
defined the status of a protectorate " which has never been acquired by settle- 
ment, or ceded to, or conquered, or annexed by His Majesty, or recognised by 
His Majesty as part of his dominions," and the status of the native inhabitants, 
in the following terms, relying on the oasa of the King v. the Earl of Crewe 
(2 K.B., 1900, p. 577) : " East Africa, being a protectorate in which the Crown 
has jurisdiction, is in relation to the Crown a foreign country under its pro- 
tection, and its native inhabitants are not subjects owing allegiance to the Crown, 
but protected foreigners, who, in return for that protection, owe obedience." 
— Cd. 6939 of 1913, p. 5. 

' Taring, 'Law Relating to the Colonies,' p. 3. The Governor of the Gold 
Coast observed in a message to Council that " the colony was what it always had 
been, a collection of little states, each of which is self-contained and entirely 
independent of its neighbours," and adds that in none of the treaties or agree- 
ments with the British Government was any cession of territory made or 
contemplated. Yet the ' Colonial Office List ' states that the greater part of the 
Gold Coast was acquired by cession (1921, p. Ixii.). If before annexation it was 
difficult to say which part was colony and which protectorate, it seems equally 
difficult to say now on what basis it was declared a colony, and how its status 
has been affected by the change. 


On the creation of tlie Kenya Colony, the ' Times ' corre- 
spondent informed us that " the white settlers are in a better 
position than as dwellers in a protectorate," but fails to 
explaia in what way.^ To say that the native laws and 
customs may be usefully retained in a protectorate as opposed 
to a colony, is to ignore the fact that in old-estabUshed 
colonies in West Africa the Supreme Court Ordinance enacts 
that no person shall be deprived of the benefit of any existiug 
native law or custom which is not repugnant to natural 
justice. The grant of Crown colony status does not in itself 
" give the settlers a fuller voice ia the control of public 
affairs " than they already possessed ia the Legislative Coimcil 
of the protectorate, the constitution of which does not depend 
on the status of the country. 

The Governor, when announcing the change, stated that 
the chief result would be to enable the raisiag of a loan. 
Nigeria, when raising a loan with the revenue of the protec- 
torate as security, was only permitted to do so through the 
instrumentality of the small colony of Lagos, where only a 
microscopic fraction of the revenue originated. But what 
are the grounds for this official limitation ? The adminis- 
tration of the protectorate, and the security it offers, differ 
in no way from those of the colony. The tenure of British 
rule is as secure ia the one as in the other. 

It was at one time understood that the institution of 
slavery could not exist ia a colony, as beiag part of the 
King's dominions, though it might be tolerated in a protec- 
torate, which is not a " possession," and forms, as Ilbert 
expresses it, "a convenient half-way house between annexa- 
tion and complete abstiaence from iaterference." That 
wholesome distinction has, however, been swept away by 
recent annexations, and indeed domestic slavery still exists 
in the Gold Coast Colony, the slaves being owned presumably 
by British subjects, though not under Mohamedan law. Sir 
C. Ilbert thought the liae of demarcation between a colony 
and a protectorate "very thia." It has become attenuated 
almost to invisibility since he wrote. 

Formerly colonies possessed Legislative and Executive 
Councils, while a protectorate had neither ; but here again 
the distinction has become obliterated. Gibraltar and St 
Helena (both Crown colonies) and also Ashanti (which is 

1 ' Times,' 9th July 1920. 


annexed territory) have none, while Cyprus, before it became 
a colony, had a Legislative CouncU of an advanced type — 
partly elected and with an unofficial majority, — and East 
Africa, while still a protectorate, had, and ISTyasaland has, 
one of the ordinary type.^ In Sierra Leone and the Gambia 
(as formerly in Southern Mgeria) the Council of the colony 
legislates for the protectorate. 

The official distinction between colonies and protectorates 
led for a time to the adoption of such meticulous devices as 
the calling the oificer admioistering the government of the 
former a "Governor," and of the latter a "High Commis- 
sioner," while the laws of the one were styled " Ordinances " 
and of the other " Proclamations," but these confusing differ- 
ences have already disappeared. 

The distinction between the two is now without practical 
difference, nor is there any apparent good reason why in 
Africa protectorates should not be accorded the status of 
possessions of the Crown, or why jurisdiction and the right of 
administration should not be based on the same prerogative 
as in a colony. The moment at which the civilised Powers 
of the world have asserted the unequivocal right and obliga- 
tion of the more advanced races to assume responsibility for 
the backward races seems an appropriate one to brush aside 
these archaic and anomalous distinctions, and to abandon 
the farce of " acquiring " jurisdiction by treaties not under- 
stood by their signatories, and foreign to their modes of 
thought. The time would seem to be ripe to declare the 
annexation of the British African protectorates, and to merge 
them, including the JSTile Sudan,^ with the Crown colonies, 

1 Taring, he. cit., pp. 60-61, and ' Colonial Office List ' Regulations, chapter i. 

2 The British and Egj'ptian flags at present fly side by side in the Anglo- 
Egyptian Sudan. This territory, won originally by conquest, chiefly by Gordon, 
was lost to Egypt by the Mahdist revolt, and Mr Hardinge, on behalf of the 
Egyptian Government, wrote that it "declined any responsibility with regard to 
the natives of those provinces which it has abandoned." — Desp. of 7/8/92. The 
demoralised Egyptian troops, who had allowed themselves to be slaughtered like 
sheep at Suakim, in spite of the leadership of Sir Valentine Baker, and who dare 
not face the Dervishes, were reorganised by Kitchener, and some of them were 
employed in the reconquest of the Sudan ; but it was British valour and British 
money which saved Egypt from being overrun by the Dervish hordes, and 
eventually overthrew the Mahdi. No impartial judge could maintain that Britain 
owes any debt to Egypt on behalf of the Sudan— it is Egypt which owes her 
salvation to the defence of her frontiers by British bayonets in the critical years 
of 1884-85. There is, however, a nominal claim, I believe, for about £10,000,000 
for advances before the Sudan became self-supporting in 1912— from which must 
be deducted the customs, &o., retained by Egypt.— (Foreign Office Handbook 98 


under some designation more appropriate than the term 
" colonies," accepting for all alike an obligation before civilisa- 
tion to promote their progress and weLEare, and confirming 
to each according to its degree of advancement, and in fulfil- 
ment of all existing pledges, its present form of government. 

From what I have said in a previous paragraph regarding 
the ambiguity of the status of the natives of a protectorate, 
it wiU, I think, be agreed that this question need form no 
obstacle to the course proposed. In the British African 
tropics it is only the educated class who would set any value 
on the status of a British subject. It should, I suggest, be 
made obligatory by Order in Council upon every person 
claiming or desiring to be a British subject to register his 
name within a prescribed period. The status would not be 
denied to any persons who now enjoy it, or to others whom 
the competent authority considered qualified. Failure to 
register would, of course, leave a native in the same position 
as at present, but any person born after the date of the 
Order, whose father was not registered, would by the terms 
of the Order cease to enjoy the status of a British subject, 
and thus persons still in a condition of savagery would in 
course of time cease to possess it automatically from the mere 
accident of birth in a colony. On the other hand, registra- 
tion would not, of course, deprive a native of the benefit of 
the clauses in the Supreme Court Ordinance relating to the 
application of native law and custom. Eegistered British 
subjects would not be allowed to own slaves. 

Such a system of registration of British subjects, as a 
means of identification, is provided for in Eastern countries.^ 
Failure to register entails liability to non-recognition as a 
British subject, and to refusal of protection (the onus of proof 
resting on the claimant), but there is no co-relative immunity 
from the consequences of illegal acts, since even though un- 
registered he cannot divest himself of h^s nationality. In the 
African tropics, however, unregistered persons would eventu- 
ally cease to have the legal status of subjects. They would 
remain protected persons, whose rights as such would be 

p. 158.) Thia claim might be referred to the arbitration of the Judicial Court of 
the League of Nations. Our protectorate over Egypt haa now International 
sanction, and so long as the Nile Sudan is under the control of an identical 
suzerain, or even in the event of her complete independence, Egypt can have no 
fear lest her essential interests should be neglected. 
' Hall, p. l!i9. 


clearly defined in the Order. This principle has been adopted 
by the French, who aUow natives of proved loyalty and good 
character, who can speak French, and have means of their 
own, to acquire the status of French citizens, with all the 
privileges of Europeans.^ 

The term " colony," as I observed, is as inappropriate in 
the tropics as that of " protectorate " is vague and indefinite. 
It originated in the idea — which, strange to say, was at one 
time common to all the nations of Europe — that the tropics 
were colonisable by the white races. That was the conception 
which prompted France after her reverses in Europe in 1871 
to endeavour to create a greater France in Africa,^ and caused 
Portugal to ofier free domains (prazos) with the title of 
" Donna " to Portuguese women who would settle in Africa. 
It was this belief which caused England, according to Sir John 
Keltic, to send out a number of women of indifferent reputa- 
tion to the freed negro settlement in Sierra Leone, together 
with a mmiber of English, Dutch, and Swedish colonists.^ 
That the belief is still held in Germany we learn from Zimmer- 
man, himseU: an extensive traveller in the German tropical 
colonies, who argues that iU-health is not due to climate but 
to alcoholic excess, which the presence of white women would 

l<ro thoughtful man contemplating the incredible triumphs 
of modern medical science would presume to assert that the 
problem of tropical colonisation is insoluble ; but Great Britain, 
with the attractions offered to her surplus population in the 
Dominions, need never look for homesteads in the low-lying 
tropics of Africa. 

The true colonies situated in the temperate zone, and 
possessing responsible government, are five in number, and 
have within recent years been christened "Dominions." 
They have nothing to do with the subject of this book, but a 
very brief word regarding them may not be out of place. 
The terms of their admission to the Peace Conference has 
involved the recognition, not by Great Britain alone, but by 
the whole civilised world, of their status as nations, and 
when revising the nomenclature of the component parts of 
the Empire they might well be caUed the " United N"ations 

1 Decree of 25/5/1915 and Arrete of 29/10/1912, F. 0. Handbook, No. 100, 
1920, p. 13. 
^ ' Control of the Tropics,' Kidd, jjp. 28, 29. 
' Keltic, 'Partition of Africa,' p. 78. 
* ' The German Empire of Central Africa,' p. 78. 


of Great Britain." The change in their status is no mere 
matter of sentiment. Hitherto the Imperial ParHament has 
claimed the right to control their foreign relations, and to 
make treaties on their behalf. Now they claim, and the 
Mother Country admits their right, to have a voice in Britain's 
foreign relations and treaties, which may iavolve the Empire 
in war. The United Kingdom, by virtue of her tradition, 
her population, her wealth, her navy and army, must be the 
predominant partner, but claims only to be prima inter 
pares. When granting responsible government to the Cape 
and ZsTatal, the Mother Country recognised her special respon- 
sibility as trustee for the welfare of the native races, and 
certain large tribal units were placed outside the jurisdiction 
of these Dominions. Over these the Governor of the Cape 
assumed the title of " High Commissioner," and the Governor 
of Natal that of " Paramount Chief." 

Emphasis has been laid on the fact that the tropical de- 
pendencies in Africa cannot be colonised by British emigrants. 
Against this dictum the British settlements on the plateaux 
of East Africa, and the German colonies on the slopes of 
Kilimanjaro and the Camerun Mountain, hke those in the 
Himalayas or the Nilgherries in India, and those in Ceylon, 
may be quoted. Here the altitude creates a sub-tropical or 
even a temperate climate, apparently well suited to the white 
races. It has not yet, however, been conclusively established 
that European children can grow to maturity in such con- 
ditions, and many consider that the altitude which creates the 
climate induces a tendency to nervous excitement and tension.^ 
However this may be, the conditions of such colonies, owing 
to their close proximity to the tropics, differ very radically 
from those of a true colony. The presence of an indigenous 
native population, which is available for the imskilled and 
menial work, militates against true colonial development. 
The agricultural immigrant, instead of tUHng his own fields, 
becomes the supervisor of native labour, and is apt to look 
on manual work as derogatory to his position. ^ " All of them," 

1 See ' Official Handbook of Kenya,' I.D. 1216, p. 321. 

^ Sir Sidney Olivier expresses the view that " such settlements in Africa pro- 
duce (as they have done in all ages and in all countries) first, slavery, predial or 
domestic ; second, compulsory or indentured labour ; third, the expropriation of 
the natives from the land in order to compel them to work for wages on the 
estates ; fourth, pressure on the natives to labour for wages through direct or. 
indirect taxation, — each of which has in turn given rise to reactions of the 
humanitarian conscience." — 'Contemp. Review,' Jan. 1919. 


say the bishops in their memorandum, " depend for their 
very existence as farmers on native labour." ^ Where Euro- 
pean enterprise depends for its success — and the greater the 
success the greater the demand — not on the sole efforts of 
the colonists, not on climate and soil, but on the labour of 
a subject race, the elements of true colonisation are absent. 
With this aspect of the subject I shall deal in the chapter on 

White and coloured labour have not learned to work side 
by side on equal terms in our dependBncies, and the attempt 
has hitherto resulted in the demoralisation of both.^ It is 
essential to remember that whereas the settlers in the Ameri- 
can colonies, ia Canada, and in Australasia, found the in- 
digenous races (with the exception of the Maoris) sparse, 
decadent, and rapidly tending to extinction, the settlers in 
Africa encounter a race, virile, iacreasing, and racially 

While climate, except at the higher altitudes, and the 
difficulties of labour supply, operate to some extent as de- 
terrents to unrestricted white colonisation, they are not 
deterrent to colonisation by Asiatics. The claims of Indian 
British subjects to equal facilities with Europeans in this 
regard, has of late become a matter of acute contro- 
versy, which I shall discuss at some length in a later 

Turning from the questions of poUtical status, and of 
different types of colonisation and settlement, let us consider 
for a moment what is the justification of the assertion that 
the custodian of these regions becomes a trustee for their 
development on behalf of civUisation. 

In the temperate zones the surplus population of the white 
races can find new homes, create new wealth, and elaborate 
new forms of government, looking in their earlier years to 
the parent State for protection against foreign aggression, 
and later becomiag sister nations. Such colonies as Canada 
and Austraha, by reason of their vast area of productive land, 
are able to export great quantities of surplus produce — 

' Cmd. 873 of 1920, p. 8. 

2 It is reported that in Alabama, in the Southern States, " white and black 
men work side by side in the mines, in the same gangs, and for the same pay " 
('Times,' 1st June 1921), a statement in startling contrast to the frequent 
descriptions of lynchings of negroes in the Southern States, 


cereals, meat, fruit, hides, and wool, as well as miaerals — to 
supplement the insufficient output of the congested countries 
of Europe, and in the earUer years of their development 
are eager to exchange these for the manufactures of the 
parent country. Since some of them Ue south and some 
north of the Equator, they are able — thanks to rapid ocean 
transport — to interchange their summer produce without 
competing with each other's markets. The exports of the 
temperate colonies are, however, of the same character, 
and in augmentation only of those produced in the parent 
country, while their demand for manufactured goods in pay- 
ment is likely to decrease as they themselves become indus- 
trialised, and less dependent on the skUl and the machinery 
of the older countries. Unless by a mutually agreed 
system of preferential tariffs they eventually differ little, 
from the economic and trade point of view, from foreign 

The tropics, on the other hand, consist for the most part 
of regions populated by backward races. Both for this reason 
and on account of their climate, they offer no inducement for 
permanent settlement by white races. The backward con- 
dition of the people, and their preference for agricultural 
pursuits, offer the prospect of continued markets for manu- 
factured goods. The tropics produce in abundance a class of 
raw materials and of foodstuffs which cannot be grown in 
the temperate zones, and are so vital to the needs of civilised 
man that they have in very truth become essential to civilisa- 
tion. It was the realisation of this fact (as I have said) 
which led the nations of Europe to compete for the control 
of the African tropics. 

Consider, for instance, the uses of vegetable oils — ^palm- 
oil, kernel-oil, copra, beniseed, cotton-seed, shea, grotmd-nut, 
&c. — aU of which come from the tropics. As food, soft nut- 
oils are now, by a process of hydrogenisation, being hardened, 
deodorised, and increasingly used as margarine, and the resi- 
dues as cake for cattle food. Ground-nuts supply much of 
the " oUve-oil " of commerce. As raw materials, only those 
who have an expert knowledge of the processes of many 
various manufactures can appreciate how essential they are 
to many of our staple industries. Palm-oU is, of course, 
used for the lubrication of rolling-stock and other machinery, 
and for the making of soap ; it is also essential for the rolling 


of tin-plates, which in turn are required for all " tinned " 
provisions, roofing-sheets, &c. 

The uses of rubber are endless, from the " waterproofing " 
of cloth to the making of tyres, and of many medical appli- 
ances. The number of hides and skins supplied by the tem- 
perate zones would be wholly inadequate for the provision 
of leather, whether for boots or for belting for machinery, 
&c., unless they were largely augmented by the output of 
the tropics. It is needless to poiat to the necessity for raw 
cotton, — add to these coffee, tea, cocoa, rice, sago, tobacco, 
sugar, jute and other fibres, gums, drugs, dye-stuffs, 
and hard-wood timbers, and we can realise how inti- 
mately our daily life is dependent on the produce of the 

This subject was admirably dealt with by Mr Kidd in 1898.^ 
He gives the trade of the United Kingdom with the British 
tropics in 1896 as £102,000,000. We may see how enormously 
the dependence of the civilised world on the tropics has 
increased since then by a comparison of the trade of British 
tropical Africa (with which alone I am here concerned) in 
the years 1899 and 1919. In the former year the value of 
the imports of the Western Group was calculated at £3,390,758, 
and the exports at £3,347,297— a total trade of £6,738,055. 
The imports of the Eastern Group were valued in that year 
at £2,600,000, and the exports at £1,900,000 — a total trade 
of £4,500,000,2 of which more than half was with the little 
island of Zanzibar. The value of the combined trade of 
British tropical Africa — which I have assumed to include the 
regions lying between the southern frontier of Egypt, lat. 
22° N., and the Zambesi, lat. 16° S.— thus stood at £11,238,055 
in 1899. Only twenty years later it had multiplied itself 
more than 6| times, as may be seen from the following table 
— ^for the figures of which (as well as those I have quoted 
for 1899) I am indebted to the statistical branch of the Board 
of Trade, with the exception of those in italics : — 

1 ' Control of the Tropics,' p. 10. 

^ The Board of Trade return indicates that the value of the imports and 
exports of the Sudan and Northern Rhodesia are not ascertainable for 1899. 
The former, in the year following the defeat of the Khalifa, may be regarded as 
negligible ; for the latter I have added £41,094 and £30,789 respectively to make 
round figures. 




Trade (exclusive of specie) in 1919. 


in 1919. 







The Western 





Nigeria . . . 








Brit. Cameruna 




Gold Coast . 








Brit. Togoland 




Sierra Leone . 








The Gambia . 








Totals . . . 








The Eastern 


The Sudan (/) 








Somaliland (e) 








Kenya («) . . 
Uganda (e) . . 








Zanzibar . . 








Tanganyika (e) 




dl, 737,641 




Nyasaland (e) . 








N. Rhodesia , 
Totals . . . 















Western Group 








Eastern Group 








Grand totals . 








{a) Approximate ; (6) 1911 ; (c) Excluding a very small quantity of bullion ; (d) BllO 
to £1 ; (e) Trade figures are for the 12 months ending March 1920 ; (/) £E1=£1, Os. 6Jd. 

The trade statistics are somewhat abnormal. The year 1919 was still affected by war 
conditions, while the year 1920, in which several dependencies show enormous increases 
(Nigeria from 25J millions to over 42 millions, the Gold Coast from 18 millions to 27J 
millions), was affected by the "boom" and the succeeding "slump." Trade has not yet 
stabilised into normal conditions. 

This Empire in the African tropics is nearly two and a half 
times the size of British India, and nearly half as large again 
as all India, including the N^ative States, and nearly twenty- 
two times the area of the United Eangdom.^ Its population, 

' The figures are : British India, area 1,093,074 sq. miles ; all India, 1,802,629 
sq. miles ; population respectively 244J millions and 315 millions. Area of 
United Kingdom, 121,377 sq. miles. 


though small for so vast an area — about 14-4 to the square 
mile — is double the density of French tropical Africa, if we 
exclude the Sahara, or nearly treble its density if we include 
it.^ Its trade, which is rapidly expanding, is more than double 
that of India per head of population, and more than a .quarter 
of its total volume, and is equal per head to that of 
Japan. 2 

The problems of British tropical Africa, with which I am 
concerned in this volume, have, of course, much in common 
both with those sub-tropical regions in the north and south 
of the continent, which are peopled by a large indigenous 
African population, and also with India, the greatest of 
British tropical dependencies. The Government of India has 
been described as a model of beneficent, bureaucratic rule. 
India's ancient civilisation and social organisation, based on 
and an integral part of its religions, and the culture and high 
intelligence of its educated classes, all combine to differentiate 
the problems of its vast population from those of other 
tropical regions of the Empire. ParUamentary debates, 
national congresses, and the Press have made them almost as 
familiar to us as our own. For a long series of years they 
have been handled by some of the ablest administrators whom 
Britain has produced. 

Eecently the decision has been taken to grant to India 
progressive self-government on Western models. It is a new 
departure in the world's history — ^for Japan lies outside the 
tropics — and only the event can show how far alien, demo- 
cratic systems are adapted to the government of tropical 
races. But apart from questions such as these, there is a 
large range of subjects common alike to India and to Africa, 
including the details of provincial and village organisation, 
which are not beyond the region of useful discussion and 
suggestion. In many of these there is much to be learned 

^ French tropical Africa consists of "French West Africa" (including Togo- 
land), area 1,822,459 sq. miles, population, 11,969,377; "French Equatorial 
Africa" (including Cameruns), area 1,037,131 sq. miles, population, 8,870,000; 
Somaliland, area 5790 sq. miles, population, 206,000 ; and Sahara, area 1,544,000 
sq. miles ; population, 800,000. Total area, 4,409,380 sq. miles ; population, 
21,840,377. Density, 4-95. Excluding the Sahara, the density would be 7-3 
to the sq. mile. — 'Statesman's Year-Book,' pp. 887, 891, and 895. 

^ Trade of all India, £287 millions— viz., 18s. per head ; Japan, 40s. ; British 
tropical Africa, 40e. The independent States which have the lowest in the world 
are Abyssinia 6s., and Liberia 4s. per head. Both are countries of enormous 
natural possibilities. — 'Whittaker's Almanac.' 


from Indian experience in spite of differences in social evolu- 
tion, in religion, and in the intelligence of her people. 

In the sphere of material development India is no longer 
solely a producer of raw materials, and a consumer of im- 
ported manufactured goods, for her factories, manned by 
the cheap labour of a frugal and industrious race, now not 
only supply a great part of her own needs, but compete 
successfully with the manufactures of other nations. Ahke 
in the early stages of iadustriaUsm, as in the methods and 
results of research and experiment, in transport, and in 
labour-saving devices, the results of India's experience should 
be of the greatest benefit to Africa. 

It is one of the defects of our system of State departments 
that the invaluable lessons of Indian administration and 
economic progress — the result of much costly experience and 
research — and the history of its successes and failures, is not 
more readily accessible to other tropical dependencies, which 
are emerging from the stage ia which India was many years 




The Berlin and Brussels Acts — Unavoidable limitations of these Acts- 
Effect of the war and treaty of peace — The convention of September 
1919 — Delays and misunderstandings regarding Mandates — The power 
to enforce observance — Omissions and suggestions — {a) Territorial 
boundaries and adjustments — (6) Free trade — (c) Eevenue not to be 
alienated — Amenability of officials to the courts — -International con- 
trol — Summary of conclusions re Mandates — Responsibility to subject 
races — Responsibility of suzerain to itself — French economic policy — 
British economic policy — Alleged infringements of the "open-door" 
policy — Contrast of French and British policy — Reciprocal obligations 
on the part of the natives — Appendix, Article 22 of Covenant. 

The principles which should guide the controlling Powers 
in Africa were first laid down with international sanction in 
the Berlin Act of 1885, which, in the words of Professor 
Keith,^ " aimed at the extension of the benefits of civilisa- 
tion to the natives, the promotion of trade and navigation 
on the basis of perfect equaUty for aU nations, and the pre- 
servation of the territories affected from the ravages of war." 
The moral obligations towards the natives were dealt with 
more explicitly and amplified by the Brussels Act, which 
came into operation in 1892, and have lately received a 
wider and more practical sanction under the Treaty of Ver- 
sailles and the Convention of September 1919, to which I 
shall presently refer more fully. 

The Berlin Act was apphcable in its entirety only to the 
" conventional basin of the Congo," and its results were 
largely nuUifled by the failure to provide any means of en- 
forcing its terms. Though the Congo was ostensibly an 
" international State," the signatory Powers could not inter- 

1 'Journal,' African Society, July 1918. 


vene, without grave risk of international friction, when the 
provisions of the Act as regards the natives were set at naught, 
or even when the commercial interests of the subjects of any 
one of them were involved, or State monopolies contrary to 
its spirit created. Free trade was suppressed in the " Congo 
Free State," and Prance for a time adopted the same regime 
in her neighbouring colonies, — a situation which was only 
partially remedied by the Anglo-French Convention of 1898, 
in which reciprocity in certain British and French territories 
— outside the conventional basin of the Congo — was arranged 
for a period of thirty years, simultaneously with a territorial 
adjustment favourable to France.^ 

The Berlin Act originated in the desire of the signatory 
Powers to set up an international free State in the Congo 
basin. Some of its articles extended to the existing coast 
possessions of the Powers, but it was feared that its applica- 
tion in its entirety to all the African territories of individual 
nations would involve interference with sovereign rights. 
The Congo State, by international consent, has now become 
a Belgian colony, and has no longer an international status 
under the Mandate of the Powers. 

The Brussels Act essayed to apply certain principles — 
especially in regard to the import of arms and trade spirits 
into Africa — ^to all the territories under European control. 
It was a notable advance towards the goal which the " Man- 
date system " hopes to attain in respect of ex- enemy colonies, 
but, Uke the Berlin Act, it provided no means of enforcing 
its stipulations, and even the periodical reports which were 
to show how far they were being carried out were in practice 

Some features of the era of aggressive acquisitiveness, 
which the completion of the partition of Africa had brought 
to a close, have been recalled by the allocation between the 
victorious Allies of the tropical colonies wrested from Ger- 
many. It was decreed by the Treaty of Versailles, which 
embodied the Covenant of the League of liTations, that Ger- 
many should forfeit these colonies on the grounds (as the 

' The clause in the Convention runs as follows: "Within the Ivory Coast, 
Gold Coast, Dahomey, and Nigeria, the persons and goods of both countries and 
of their colonies shall for thirty years enjoy the same treatment in all matters 
of river navigation, of commerce, and of tariff, and fiscal treatment and taxes of 
all kinds, but each may fix in its own territory tariffs, fiscal treatment, and 



Allies explained) of misrule/ and that they should be held 
by the respective Allies under Mandates, which should be 
based on Article 22 of the Covenant. 

A new Convention abrogated, as between the parties to 
it, the Berlin and Brussels Acts, except as regards the matters 
dealt with in Article 1 of the Convention, which appUed the 
principle of " complete commercial equality " in an area 
therein defined. It pledged the signatories to maintain in 
their respective African territories " an authority and police 
forces sufficient to ensure protection of persons and property, 
and if necessary of freedom of trade and transit," and it 
bound " the signatory Powers exercising sovereign rights or 
authority in African territories, to continue to watch over the 
preservation of the native populations, and to supervise the 
improvement of the conditions of their moral and material 
weUbeing." Finally, it endeavoured to remedy the defect 
of the previous Acts by agreeing that " if any dispute what- 
ever should arise between the signatory Powers relating to 
the application of the Convention which cannot be settled 
by negotiation, this dispute shall be submitted to an arbitral 
tribunal in conformity with the provisions of the Covenant 
of the League of Nations." A separate Convention was drawn 
up to deal with the Uquor traffic.^ 

The precise terms of Article 22 are of such importance 
that I have appended it, for easy reference, at the end of this 
chapter. It embodies the latest expression of the conscience 
of Europe in regard to " peoples not yet able to stand by 
themselves," and constitutes not only a pledge in respect of 
Mandate territories, but a model and an aspiration for the 
conduct of those already under the control of the signa- 
tory Powers. It shows how great has been the advance, 
alike in knowledge and in recognition of responsibility 
towards the subject races, since the days of the poUti- 
cal and economic rivalry which led to the partition of 

' Setting aside the atrocities exposed in Blue-books, one may judge of the 
nature of German methods of promoting the moral and material interests of 
the natives by the three regulations for S.W. Africa reported some years ago 
in the 'Times.' (1) Natives are prohibited from acquiring any rights in, or 
titles to land ; (2) from possessing any big cattle or riding animals without 
special sanction ; and (3) every native must have a passport. On the otlier 
hand, Herren Dernburg and Solf— Colonial Ministers— themselves visited Africa, 
and expressed enlightened views regarding the natives, in opposition to the 
local governors and the German colonists. 

2 Conventions of 10th September 1919. Cmd. 477 and 478 of 1919. 


Africa, and the tentative efforts of the Berlin and Brussels 

It is interesting, however, to note how close is the parallel 
between the task of the Paris Conference of 191S> and that 
of the Berlin Conference of 1885, when at the iavitation of 
the German Emperor fourteen of the great Powers of the 
world met to regulate (inter alia) " the conditions most favour- 
able to trade and development, and the means of furthering 
the moral and material wellbeing of the native populations 
in certain regions of Africa." By the recognition of the 
treaties concluded between the " International Association 
of the Congo " and the various Powers signatory to the Act 
(Protocol 9) " the new Congo State," said Prince Bismarck, 
" is called upon the become one of the chief protectors of 
the work we have in view," ^ and King Leopold of Belgiima, 
its founder, became in point of fact the Mandatory of the 
Powers. Have the lessons and warnings of this earlier Man- 
date been fully appreciated in the new dispositions ? 

There has been great delay in issuing the Mandates, due 
no doubt to the difficulty of harmonising opposing views of 
the Mandatory Powers as to their terms, and as to the inter- 
pretation to be placed on Article 22. This has necessitated 
carrying on the administration " on the assumption that the 
Mandates as drafted by the Mandates Commission did cor- 
rectly define the conditions of the trust," ^ in spite of the fact 
that the Hague Convention expressly precludes a Power in 
military occupation of conquered territory from altering the 
civil administration.* 

Their condemnation of German methods of administration 
formed (as they said) * the justification of the Allies in con- 
fiscating the German colonies, but the Hague Convention 
remained unaltered, nor were " the Mandates as drafted " 
made known to the officers charged with the task of adminis- 
tration. There also appeared to be much misunderstanding 
as to the functions and powers of the League of Nations in 
regard to the Mandates.^ 

1 C. 4361 of 1886, p. 303. 

^ Lord Milner (Chairman of Mandates Commission) in the debate of 29th 
July 1920 in the House of Lords. 

5 See also ' Official Manual of Military Law,' pp. 288-290. 

■* See reply of the Allies to Germany's protest, July 1919. 

^ Mr Asquith asserted that Article 22 prevented any Mandate from being 
conferred by any authority other than the League, and Mr Bonar Law stated 
that the League's confirmation was essential. — Debate of 18th June 1920. In 


Finally, though Article 22 says that " certain territories 
can best be administered under the laws of the Mandatory 
as an integral part of its territory," this phrase is quaUfled 
by the words " subject to the safeguards mentioned, in the 
interests of the indigenous population," and it was clear that 
these safeguards apply to all Mandated territories.^ The 
French, however, are reported to have claimed that their 
portion of Cameruns and Togoland were not included in the 
list of territories placed under Mandate, and to have de- 
manded the right to administer them "without a Mandate, 
though in the spirit of a Mandate," and, inter alia, to have 
asserted the right to recriut troops for purposes other than 
the defence of the country, which Article 22 specifically for- 
bids.^ These views seem to strike at the very root of the 
priQciples at stake, and jeopardise the whole Mandate system, 
and with it the League of Nations itself.^ 

The crucial difference between the Mandate system and 
the former Acts lay in the fact that while the latter provided 
no machinery for enforcing the obligations undertaken by 
a signatory, the Mandates were supposed to have provided 
something in the way of a supervising authority and arbitral 
court. To what extent then has this vital principle survived ? 
We now learn on the highest authority that the functions of 
the League are limited to examining the draft Mandates 

reply to a demand by the Liverpool Chamber that the League "shall revise all 
laws and regulations, local and otherwise " (a function obviously incompatible 
with the sovereignty of the Mandatory), the Foreign Office declared that "the 
Mandates will be found to meet all the points raised" (Letters, 27th May and 22Dd 
June 1920). Lord Milnerin turn declared that "neither the Supreme Council, 
nor the Council of the League, nor any other authority, is competent materially 
to alter the Mandates without upsetting the Covenant of the League itself," for 
they are nothing more than a setting out in proper legal form of the provisions of 
Article 22. 

' The article by implication excludes countries in tropical Africa from this 

^ M. Sarraut (French Colonial Minister) is stated to have said that the Supreme 
Council's decision of 7th May did not place the Cameruns and Togo in the 
Mandate list, and that it decided on 9th December 1919 that the words " defence 
of territory " did not mean local defence only, but included the mother country 
if need be. France demanded complete sovereignty.— 17th Sept. 1919. A decree 
(Depeche Coloniale, 25/3/1921) "regulates the status" of the Cameruns. It is 
placed under a special " Commissaire," who is vested with the fullest powers, 
and is assisted by an administrative council. The country is declared to be 
autonomous administratively and financially. While assisted by a military grant, 
it may be called upon to contribute to the budgets of neighbouring French 
colonies with common interests. Equal commercial opportunity is recognised. 

' Since this was written France has accepted a Mandate, though in slightly 
dififerent terms from the British. See Cmd. 1350/1921. 


(prepared by the Allied Powers) to see if they are ia con- 
fonnity with the Treaty. It can alter nothing. It is stated, 
however, that clauses have been iaserted in the Mandates 
themselves, precluding alteration except with the consent of 
the League. If it is the Mandatory itself which seeks the 
alteration, a majority of the Council of the League can ap- 
prove it ; but if the proposed alteration emanates from any 
other source the decision must be imanimous, and hence the 
Mandatory can veto it. A clause, it is said, is also inserted 
providing for reference to the Court of International Justice 
in the event of any dispute as to interpretation — ^not the 
execution — of the Mandate. A permanent Mandate Com- 
mission will examine the annual reports from Mandatories, 
and report any breach to the Council, which would point it 
out to the Mandatory Government, and rely on pubMc opinion 
to cause the Government to redress it. 

If the function of the International Court be relegated to 
decisions on interpretation, and the control of the League 
is to depend on the public opinion of the accused Mandatory, 
the " safeguards in the interests of the natives," which Article 
22 was designed to effect, become very shadowy. But it is 
necessary to recognise the fact that great nations are un- 
willing to accept Mandates of a precarious nature, subject to 
revocation, and therefore, as M. Sarraut observed, unfavour- 
able to continuous effort and liberal expenditure of capital. 
E"or would they lightly submit to an inquisition on their 
methods, and the loss of prestige which it would entail. 

It is too late to hope that the altruistic professions of 
justice to the native races should include the restoration of 
original tribal boundaries, where these were violated by the 
arbitrary political divisions made by the Powers in their orig- 
inal appropriation of African territory, except where long usage 
has rendered this no longer desirable by the natives, or where 
there is a sufficiently important reason (such as the inclusion of 
a port or railway in one or the other sphere) for maintaining 
existing boundaries. Except in such a case it is imperative that 
further injustice should not be perpetrated by fresh violation of 
tribal boundaries in the assignment of Mandates. 

It was at first proposed that the inhabitants of a country 
included in a Mandate should have some voice in the selection 
of the Power which would be appointed as their suzerain. 
This was abandoned, ostensibly because in Africa, with the 


exception of a few educated coast natives, the tribes would 
be too ignorant to select between European Powers, but the 
real reason lay in the competing claims of the Powers in- 
terested. France and England iadeed undertook to com- 
pensate Italy by cession of territory, if they increased their 
possessions in Africa. 

It can readily be understood that the exigencies of the 
situation offered practically no alternative to this transaction. 
But it is to be hoped that it is the last occasion on which 
the conscience of Europe wiU permit the exchange of " pos- 
sessions " in Africa as though they and their inhabitants were 
mere chattels for barter, regardless of the pledges of protec- 
tion, for the fulfilment of which the protecting Power is 
individually responsible, and which it has no moral right to 
transfer to another. It is a notable proof of the one-sided 
character of the so-called treaties.^ 

It is, I think, to be regretted that " equal opportunities 
for trade and commerce " are Umited by the covenant to 
members of the League, for it is admittedly essential that 
Germany, with sixty-five million people, must have assured 
access to sources of tropical raw materials for the employ- 
ment of her industrial population.^ It is in her late colonies, 
where methods so different from her own are to be employed, 
that Germany should learn the better way. 

Free trade from the point of view of native interests means 
unrestricted markets, and the exclusion of aU forms of mono- 
poly or preference, whether by private persons or by the 
local government in the interests of the controlling Power. 
The Mandate should include a precise stipulation to this 
effect, and that aU profits accruing from the exercise of such 
monopolies as the local Government may undertake iu the 
interests of the country — such as railways, posts and tele- 
graphs, river-transport services, &c. — shall (of course after 

> The exchange of the Gambia for French Dahomey was at one time the 
subject of prolonged debate (see Cd. 2ii of 1870 and Cd. 1409 and 1498 of 1876, 
&o.), and has been revived from time to time up to the present day. It would 
surely be an immoral and indefeasible transaction, unless with the consent of the 
people. A French writer in the ' Observer ' (11th Nov. 1917) endorses this view. 

^ Germany's African possessions in 1914 are stated to have covered 931,460 
sq. miles. The Allies, in reply to her protest at being deprived of them, pointed 
out that only one-half of 1 per cent of her total trade was with them, and only 
3 per cent of her raw materials was derived from them. This is hardly a 
reasonable way of looking at colonies in an early stage of development, the more 
so when it is remembered that Germany will no longer have such free access to 
trade in the colonies of other nations as she enjoyed before the war. 


providing for the service of any loan) be credited solely to 
the local revenue for the benefit of the country. It is to be 
noted iu this connection that the territories to which the 
system of Imperial Preference appUes, as detailed ia the 
Board of Trade JouTnal,^ may by Order in Coimcil iaclude 
any " ia respect of which a Mandate may be exercised by 
the Government of any part of H.M.'s dominions." 

To this principle — viz., that the revenues accruing from 
a Mandated territory must be spent whoUy upon that territory 
— a principle which apphes equally to dependencies not held 
under Mandate — there may be possible exceptions, as there 
are exceptions to every rule. If, for instance, in a territory 
having a very hmited area capable of development, and a 
very small population, a source of very great wealth be dis- 
covered, entirely unconnected with native industries, and 
from which the natives without foreign assistance would not 
have derived any benefit ; in such a case the exploitation of 
the wealth — ^be it mineral-oil or diamonds — ^by Government 
or private enterprise, would in itseK bring high wages and 
prosperity to the natives, and a fraction of the net profits 
would sufBce to meet aU possible local needs for develop- 
ment, &c. If the balance of the revenue realised from royal- 
ties accrued to the Mandate Power, no possible injustice would 
be inflicted upon the people. The case of the island of JiTaura 
is an instance in point.^ 

But in such rare exceptions there should be one essential 
proviso to safeguard the great fundamental principle of 
trusteeship — ^viz., that every case in which exception is sought 
should be laid before Parliament, in order that the verdict 
of the nation may be recorded by its accredited representa- 
tives. For it should not be in the power of any one man, 
however eminent, to decide ex cathedra that the circum- 
stances were such as to justify an exception in a matter so 
vitally affecting the national honour. 

The principle that the oflEicials of the Government are 

1 9th Sept. 1920. 

^ Nauru Island is eight miles square, with 1700 inhabitants. Together with 
an even smaller neighbour — Ocean Island — it was surrrendered by Germany in 
the war, and is now held under Mandate. It contains vast quantities of phos- 
phates of very great commercial value, the exploitation of which is shared be- 
tween Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand. The justification of this 
arrangement- was challenged in the debates of 18th June 1920 and later dates. 
—See "The Crown Colonies and the British War Debt" in 'The Nineteenth 
Century," 1920. 


amenable to the JTirisdiction of the local courts — ^which is 
recognised in all British dependencies — ^is also one to which 
efEect should be given by the Mandates. Some of these sug- 
gestions were, I think, iacluded in the model Mandate pre- 
pared by the Anti-Slavery and Aborigines' Protection Society 
at the suggestion of the Mandate Commission. 

We have seen that the League is not charged with any 
executive authority over a Mandatory Power. It cannot 
therefore accept direct complaints from the natives or their 
self-constituted champions, for that would lead not only to 
international friction, but would so weaken the authority of 
the Mandatory as to render its task impracticable. The 
natives would regard the League as their real suzerain, and 
it would in fact become an International Board of Adminis- 
tration. For reasons such as these, if for no other, it is 
inconceivable that (as has been suggested) the Powers already 
in control of territory should voluntarily place them under 

The Labour Party, however, desires that all territories in 
tropical Africa, whether held under Mandate or not, should 
be administered by a Commission under the supernational 
authority of the League,^ and some sort of international con- 
trol has found favour elsewhere. I concur with Professor 
Keith, that such an expedient " must be ruled out as whoUy 
unwise and impracticable." It would paralyse all initiative 
and progress, and the dead hand of a super-bureaucracy 
devoid of national incentive and patriotism would stifle all 
enthusiasm. Great Britain with her long and hard- won 
experience could never submit the poUcy and development of 
her existing dependencies to the control of an international 
board, on which she had only joint representation with 
Prance, Italy, Portugal, and Belgiunx; nor would France 
tolerate such a proposal for a moment, and it has been con- 
demned by native spokesmen. It does not merit discussion. 

The Mandate system has the serious and unavoidable 
defect that, like its predecessors, it lacks the power of co- 
ercion to enforce obUgations. It can only rely on the pubUc 
opinion of the country whose Government is charged with 

' The reporter of the Labour Research Committee is constrained to admit that 
it would work admirably in Africa only if the nations were guided solely by the 
principles of the Sermon on the Mount. — 'Empire and Commerce,' L. Woolf, 
p. 322. 


infringement. This opinion is likely to support its Govern- 
ment agaiast outside criticism. Each Mandatory submits a 
full annual report, but since it is its own reporter the state- 
ment must be ex 'parte, and independent investigation would 
be resented as casting a doubt on its bona fides. Nor are the 
principles iavolved capable of very precise definition in prac- 
tice. Such limitations are, however, inevitable in the present 
circumstances of the world. We must accept the fact that 
the Mandates are practically irrevocable, and if the altruistic 
hopes of idealists have not proved possible of fulfilment, we 
must not minimise the substantial step achieved by the iater- 
national recognition of the principles embodied ia Artiicle 22, 
and the machiaery — ^imperfect as it is — set up to preserve 
them. It is no mean achievement of the Conference of Paris, 
that the nations assembled have succeeded in giving a more 
precise and definite form to earlier ideals. Though limited 
to ex-enemy colonies, their recognition of that ideal must 
■ of necessity influence their standards in the territories not 
formally included in its scope. The camouflage which I 
described in the last chapter is swept away, and the Powers, 
instead of arguing over the theoretical basis of sovereignty 
in Africa and the validity of so-caUed treaties, frankly recog- 
nise that " the tutelage of nations not yet able to stand by 
themselves must be intrusted to advanced nations who are 
best able to undertake it." They accept control under the 
Covenant, primarily in the interests of the subject races, 
whether as Mandatories or otherwise. 

The principle that " the weUbeing and development of 
peoples not yet able to stand by themselves forms a sacred 
trust of civilisation," though referring in its context to the 
territories which before the war were under enemy control, 
must obviously in future be regarded as no less applicable 
to territories under the control of the AlUes. We may assume, 
therefore, that the " vague humanitarian generalisations " (as 
Sir S. Olivier calls them) of the earlier Acts have now given 
place to a more exphcit obUgation sanctioned by international 

The responsibility is one which the advantages of an in- 
herited civilisation and a superior intellectual culture, no less 
than the physical superiority conferred by the monopoly of 
firearms, imposes upon the controlling Power. To the back- 
ward races civiMsation must be made to mean something 


higher than the methods of the development syndicate, or 
the assiduous cultivation of new wants. Where these prin- 
ciples have been neglected, history has taught us that failure 
has been the result. Without minimisiiig the great work 
which Prance and Belgium are doing in Africa, it is to Eng- 
land that Beauheu generously awards the palm ia having 
led the way ia the recognition of the responsibility which is 
inseparable from rule.^ The Brussels Conference met at the 
iastance of our Queen to ampUfy the work of its predecessor 
at BerUn, with this object, and to check iaternecine war with 
imported firearms, and the evils of the spirit traffic. Eng- 
land has consistently endeavoured to give effect to these 
Acts, and has now cordially accepted the new charter of 
liberty and progress. 

The means by which practical effect may be given to these 
aspirations merit full consideration. They include such ques- 
tions as the methods of rule which shall give the widest 
possible scope to chiefs and people to manage their own 
affairs under the guidance of the controlling Power ; the 
constitution of Courts of Justice free from corruption and 
accessible to aU ; the advancement of education, and its 
adaptation to the needs and the circumstances of the people ; 
slavery and the institution of a free labour market ; the 
creation of a system of taxation which shall be as little oner- 
ous as possible, and protect the peasantry from the exactions 
of the powerful ; land tenure ; the liquor traffic, and similar 
problems. With these I shall endeavour to deal in sub- 
sequent chapters : they constitute our moral obligation to- 
wards the subject races. 

Nor is the obligation which the controUing Powers owe 
to themselves and their race a lesser one. It has been well 
said that a nation, like an individual, must have some task 
higher than the pursuit of material gain, if it is to escape 
the benumbing influence of parochialism and to fulfil its 
higher destiny. If high standards are maintained, the con- 
trol of subject races must have an effect on national character 
which is not measurable in terms of material profit and loss. 
And what is true for the nation is equally true for the in- 
dividual officers employed. If lower standards are adopted 
—the arrogant display of power, or the selfish pursuit of 
profit — the result is equally fatal to the nation and to the 

1 Beaulieu, loc. cit., vol. i. p. 92, and vol. ii. p. 246. Quoted on p. 619. 


individual. Misuse of opportunity carries with it a relentless 
Nemesis, deteriorating the moral fibre of the individual, and 
permeating the nation, as M. Leroy Beaulieu has shown in 
his masterly survey of the standards and principles which 
have guided the colonial policy of successive nations. 

But if the standard which the white man must set before 
him when dealing with uncivilised races must be a high one 
for the sake of his own moral and spiritual balance, it is not 
less imperative for the sake of the influence which he exer- 
cises upon those over whom he is set in authority. The 
white man's prestige must stand high when a few score are 
responsible for the control and guidance of miUions. His 
courage must be undoubted, his word and pledge absolutely 
inviolate, his sincerity transparent. There is no room for 
" mean whites " in tropical Africa. Nor is there room for 
those who, however high their motives, are content to place 
themselves on the same level as the uncivilised races. They 
lower the prestige by which alone the white races can hope 
to govern and to guide. 

Turning now to questions of economic policy, we find that 
the two chief Powers have adopted radically different prin- 
ciples in Africa. The French, as M. de Caix expresses it, 
adopt " a sort of economic nationalism," which aims at 
preserving the products and markets of her colonies for the 
exclusive use of France by every means in her power.^ It 
was, as I have pointed out, only in certain specified colonies, 
for a limited period, and as the price of territorial adjust- 
ments in her favour, that she agreed to break down the 
tariff waU. 

This principle is regarded as essential to the theory that 
her colonies form an integral part of France, mutually inter- 
dependent and sufficing. After the war of 1870, and again 
after the recent war, the doctrine was proclaimed that 
" France can only remain a great Power by knowing how 
to draw from her colonies all she requires." ^ 

Dutch methods need not be discussed here, since they do 
not affect Africa, but a succinct and most interesting account 
may be found in Mr EUiott's work on the Philippines.^ 

1 See " British and French Colonial Policy," by M. Devereux, ' Anglo-French 
Eeview,' Sept. 1920. 
^ French Colonial Minister at Paris Conference of 1917. 
' ' The Philippines,' C. B. Elliott, pp. 15-18, and Prefatory Note by Mr Root. 


The conception that overseas possessions should be a source 
of direct profit to their " owners " lost Spaia her South 
American colonies. Tttrkey, the Congo under Leopold, Hol- 
land and Portugal,^ have adhered to the priaciple, the dis- 
astrous results of which not even Adam Smith has described 
with more relentless logic than the great French writer, 
M. Beauheu. France, however, while imposing no tribute, 
maiataias the policy of monopoly and conscription. 

When Great Britain undertook the control of great regions 
in tropical Africa, she not only gave to her commercial rivals 
the same opportunities as were enjoyed by her own nationals, 
but she assisted in the development of these territories from 
Imperial revenues — not as loans to be repaid when they grew 
rich, but as free gifts — and later by the use of Imperial credit 
to float loans for development, while her Navy, and on occa- 
sion her troops, ensured their protection. She secured to 
their inhabitants an unrestricted market for their produce, 
and to aU engaged in their development, of whatever nation- 
ality, equality of commercial opportunity and uniform laws. 

She recognised that the custodians of the tropics are, in 
the words of Mr Chamberlain, " trustees of civiUsation for 
the commerce of the world " ; that their raw materials and 
foodstuffs — ^without which civilisation cannot exist — must be 
developed aHke in the interests of the natives and of the 
world at large, without any artificial restrictions. Here are 
his words spoken twenty-four years ago : " We, in our 
colonial policy, as fast as we acquire new territory and 
develop it, develop it as trustees of civilisation for the com- 
merce of the world. We offer in aU these markets over 
which our flag floats the same opportunities, the same open 
field to foreigners that we offer to our own subjects, and 
upon the same terms. In that poUcy we stand alone, because 
aU other nations, as fast as they acquire new territory — 
acting, as I beUeve, most mistakenly in their own interests, 
and above all, in the interests of the country they administer 
— all other nations seek at once to secure the monopoly for 
their own products by preferential and artificial methods." 
Viewed from this standpoint, the tropics are the heritage of 
mankind, and neither, on the one hand, has the suzerain 
Power a right to their exclusive exploitation, nor, on the 

1 See Admiralty Handbook, I.D. 1189, p. 136. Reforms were instituted by 
the law of August 1914. 


other hand, have the races which inhabit them a right to 
deny their bounties to those who need them. The respon- 
sibility for adequate development rests on the custodian on 
behalf of civilisation — and not on behalf of civUisation alone, 
for much of these products is returned to the tropics con- 
verted into articles for the use and comfort of its peoples. 

The democracies of to-day claim the right to work, and 
the satisfaction of that claim is impossible without the raw 
materials of the tropics on the one hand and their markets 
on the other. Increased production is more than ever neces- 
sary now, to enable England to pay the debts she incurred 
in preserving the liberties of the world. The merchant, the 
miner, and the manufacturer do not enter the tropics on 
sufferance, or employ their technical skill, their energy, and 
their capital as " interlopers," or as " greedy capitalists," 
but in fulfilment of the Mandate of civilisation. America, 
since she became a world Power, has adopted the same 
standards in the Philippines. 

The policy of " the open door " has two distinct though 
mutually dependent aspects — viz., equal opportunity to the 
commerce of other countries, and an unrestricted market to 
the native producer. The tropics can only be successfully 
developed if the interests of the controlling Power are identical 
with those of the natives of the country, and it seeks no 
individual advantage, and imposes no restriction for its own 

It has been alleged that in the matter of certain export 
duties on palm kernels in West Africa, as also in regard to 
" Imperial Preference," these principles have been violated, 
while the policy of " Empire cotton-growing " would seem to 
depend for its success upon an arbitrary hypothecation of 
the crop. The principles at issue in each of these cases are 
of such importance that I propose to consider these allega- 
tions in some detail in a later chapter (see pp. 268-279). 

French writers have pointed to these measures as a viola- 
tion of our vaunted policy of the " open door," and asked 
how we can consistently condemn the exclusive tariffs of 
Erance while adopting such measures ourselves. The prin- 
ciple of Imperial Preference is that of voluntary sacrifice, 
and cannot be compared with obligatory and exclusive tariffs 
imposed on colonies in restriction of their markets ; if in 
any case the latter have been imposed, it was, as we shall see, 


as a temporary war measure only. Whether the exclusive 
tariffs of other nations may compel us to adopt any other 
policy the future will show, but there is no burking the 
conclusion that unless it is adopted with the consent, or for 
the benefit, of the dependency concerned, it would be con- 
trary to our declared policy of trusteeship. 

The acceptance of this policy of trusteeship involves, it, 
may be said, some reciprocal obligation on the part of the 
natives. Their lands, which Germany coveted, and their 
liberties were at stake no less than our own in the recent 
war. They owe it to their inclusion in the Empire that they 
have escaped. Is, then, the native of the tropics to bear no 
share of the economic burden which the war has left, or in 
the cost of defence for the future ? The African is not by 
nature ungrateful, and would not shirk his share of the 
burden. I have no doubt as to the response he would make 
to such a suggestion if he understood. Would, then, a trustee 
be justified in demanding some reciprocity, or exactiag some 
participation in the cost of defence, as an obligation properly 
due from his ward, after consulting the vocal minority and 
the more intelligent chiefs ? These are questions which merit 
consideration in their proper context (see pp. 274, 275). 


To those colonies and territories which as a consequence of the late 
war have ceased to be under the sovereignty of the States which for- 
merly governed them, and which are inhabited by peoples not yet able 
to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern 
world, there should be applied the principle that the wellbeing and 
development of such peoples form a sacred trust of civilisation, and 
that securities for the performance of this trust should be embodied in 
this Covenant. 

The best method of giving practical effect to this principle is that 
the tutelage of such peoples should be entrusted to advanced nations 
who, by reason of their resources, their experience, or their geographical 
position, can best undertake this responsibility and who are willing to 
accept it, and that this tutelage should be exercised by them as 
Mandatories on behalf of the League. 


The character of the Mandate must differ according to the stage of 
the _ development of the people, the geographical situation of the 
territory, its economic conditions, and other similar circumstances. 

Certain communities formerly belonging to the Turkish Empire have 
reached a stage of development where their existence as independent 
nations can be provisionally recognised subject to the rendering of 
administrative advice and assistance by a Mandatory, until such time 
as they are able to stand alone. The wishes of these communities must 
be a principal consideration in the selection of the Mandatory, 

Other peoples, especially those of Central Africa, are at such a stage 
that the Mandatory must be responsible for the administration of the 
territory under conditions which will guarantee freedom of conscience 
and religion, subject only to the maintenance of public order and 
morals, the prohibition of abuses such as the slave trade, the arms 
traflSc and the liquor traffic, and the prevention 'of the establishment of 
fortifications or military and naval bases, and of military training of 
the natives for other than police purposes and the defence of territory, 
and will also secure equal opportunities for the trade and commerce of 
other members of the League. 

There are territories, such as South- West Africa and certain of the 
South Pacific Islands, which, owing to the sparseness of their popula- 
tion, or their small size, or their remoteness from the centres of civilisa- 
tion, or their geographical contiguity to the territory of the Mandatory, 
and other circumstances, can be best administered under the laws of 
the Mandatory as integral portions of its territory, subject to the safe- 
guards above mentioned in the interests of the indigenous population. 

In every case of Mandate, the Mandatory shall render to the Council 
an annual report in reference to the territory committed to its charge. 

The degree of authority, control, or administration to be exercised 
by the Mandatory shall, if not previously agreed upon by members of 
the League, be explicitly defined in each case by the Council. 

A permanent Commission shall be constituted to receive and examine 
the annual reports of the Mandatories, and to advise the Council on all 
matters relating to the observance of the Mandates. 




Units of administration — Climate and physical characteristics of the 
country — History — Paucity of population — Hamites and negroes — 
Physical characteristics of the people — Character of the typical 
African — Illustration of lack of apprehension — Of fidelity and 
friendship — Diversity in evolution — Administrative classification — 
Primitive races — Settled tribes — Pastorals — The refugees — Social 
organisation — Advanced communities — Pagan tribes — Alien con- 
querors^Influence of Islam — Influence of Christianity — Summary 
— The Europeanised African — Characteristics — Comparison with 
Indian Progressives — The negro in the United States — Claims for 
self-government — Scope in municipal work — The true path to self- 
government — Opportunities now enjoyed — Pitness for responsible 
positions — A native cadet service — Critics of the educated native — 
Future of the educated African — The debt of Africa to him- — The 
Syrian — Is civilisation a benefit ? — Some drawbacks and some benefits. 

Before discussing the methods by which the controlliiig 
Power can promote the material development of the tropics 
and the welfare of the inhabitants, it will be of interest to 
consider what manner of people they are, and the physical 
characteristics of the country they inhabit. 

British tropical Africa includes some of the most densely 
populated and most richly endowed regions of the continent, 
including Mgeria, which, in view of its area, population, and 
trade, occupies a very prominent place among the depen- 
dencies of the Empire. We have already seen (vide table, 
p. 45) that, unUke India and the Dominions, the African 
tropical empire is divided into a number of dependencies, 
in some cases coterminous with each other, in other cases 
separated by intervening territories under the control of 
foreign Powers, each under its own Government and separate 
laws, and all except the Sudan under the control of the 
Colonial Office, which alone forms the nexus which co-ordi- 
nates their policies. 


In the sub-tropical regions south of the Zambesi there are 
other dependencies which have been permeated by European 
settlement — Southern Ehodesia, Bechuana, Basuto, and Swazi- 
land, as well as the regions ia the South African Union. The 
native peoples who inhabit them are still for the most part 
in the tribal stage, and the problems of administration dis- 
cussed in this volume apply in great part to them. 

The climate and physical characteristics of a country which 
extends over sixty-two degrees of longitude and thirty-eight 
of latitude (say 4200 by 2600 mUes) must naturally be ex- 
tremely diversified. In the northern hemisphere the heavy 
rains faU in the summer months (June-October), in the south 
from November to April, while on and near the Equator there 
is a double rainy season partaldng of both characteristics. 

Across the northern part of the conttaent, from the Eed 
Sea to the Atlantic, stretches a zone of arid desert, waterless, 
in parts devoid of vegetation, a sea of shifting, wind-driven 
sands, whose billows form sand-dunes, and bury and baffle 
the toil of man. Throughout its breadth in the British tropics 
it is traversed by the wonderful Nile. In the east there are 
great mountaias whose crests are crowned with eternal snow, 
and elevated plateaux on which the climate and rainfall 
invite the European colonist. Through the heart of the 
country, from the temperate latitudes in the south to those 
in the north — and beyond them across the Eed Sea to Northern 
Palestine — ^runs the Great Eift VaUey, 3500 miles long, form- 
ing the long and narrow lakes of Tanganyika and Nyasa, 
with a maximum depth of 4758 feet and 2316 feet respec- 

The equatorial belt in West Africa is a region of moist 
forests and profuse vegetation, with a rainfall of 150 inches 
on the coast, culminating on the western slopes of the Camerun 
mountain in upwards of 400 inches. Here was no induce- 
ment for the conquering pastoral tribes, for the grasslands 
of the northern savannahs with their vast herds of cattle cease. 
Animal and bird Ufe, other than the elephant, the hippo- 
potamus, the buffalo, the monkeys which live in the tree- 
tops, the great fish-eagle, and aquatic birds, is scarce. Man 
is at perpetual warfare with the vegetable and insect world, 
and in the deltas of the tropical rivers leads a semi-aquatic 
life, subsisting on sylvan produce and fish. The British 
tropics in Africa include a great part of those mighty rivers 



— ^the Mger and the Nile — and the great lakes of which 
Victoria Nyanza is the largest, with an area of 27,000 square 
miles, but little less than that of Ireland. 

The history of these peoples of tropical Africa, except on 
the coast fringe, has during the ages prior to the advent of 
European explorers some sixty years ago been an impene- 
trable mystery. Attempts to solve it consist chiefly in con- 
jectural migrations of tribes and of mythical legends, except 
in so far as the history of the West African empires of Ghana, 
Melle, and Songhay have been recorded by the Arabic his- 
torians of the Moorish Empire.^ Unlike the ancient civilisa- 
tions of Asia and South America, the former inhabitants of 
Africa have left no monuments and no records other than 
rude drawings on rocks like those of neolithic man. 

The paucity of the population of tropical Africa, as con- 
trasted with that of Europe and Asia, is shown by the table 
on page 45. ^ In the regions imder British control it averages 
only 14'4 to the square mile, while in British and French tropical 
Africa, covering over seven miUion square miles, it does not 
exceed 8'5. It is, moreover, very unevenly distributed. Con- 
siderable districts in Mgeria have a density of over 300, 
while in vast areas in the Sudan, owing to the desert condi- 
tions, there is only one person to two square miles. Northern 
Ehodesia, more than twice the size of the United Kingdom, 
fertile and well-watered, has only three to the square mUe. 
This astonishing lack of inhabitants, though the races of 
Africa are virile and prolific, has been due in the past to inter- 
tribal warfare, slave-raiding, and the ravages of imchecked 
epidemics — especially sleeping-sickness and smallpox, — in. more 
recent times to the prevalence of venereal disease, with its 
attendant infant mortality, and to the dissemination of dis- 
eases by freedom of communications. 

The fecundity of the women — apart from the effects of 
venereal — appears to vary greatly in different tribes, and 
while some are decadent, others are correspondingly proMc. 
The custom, which seems fairly general among the negro 
tribes, of sucHing a child for two or three years, during which 
a woman lives apart from her husband, tends to decrease 

1 See the account in ' A Tropical Dependency,' by Lady Lugard, of El Bekri, 
Ibn Khaldun, Ibn Batuta, and others who wrote in the eleventh and fourteenth 

2 The density per square mile of the United Kingdom is 374, of Germany 311, 
of France 197, of India 158, of Japan 320, and of China 97.— Whitaker, 1921. 


population. Polygamy, in so far as it ensures that every 
female is mated, would seem to conduce to increase, but the 
accumulation of great numbers of women in the harems of 
despotic rulers would have a contrary tendency. 

It is essential to realise that tropical Africa is inhabited 
by races which differ as widely from each other as do the 
nations of Europe, and that some of the principal racial types 
present even greater divergence than those of Europe and 
parts of Asia.^ Broadly speaking, the coloured population 
of tropical Africa divides itself into the races of Asiatic origin 
which have penetrated the continent from the north-east 
and east, with their negroid descendants, who chiefly occupy 
the northern tropical zone, and the negro tribes which inhabit 
the greater part of the remainder. ^ The immigrant races, 
generally called Hamites, are supposed to have invaded 
North-East Africa " probably a good deal more than 4000 
or 5000 B.C." There was a Semitic invasion some 2000 years 
later, but its elements have entirely disappeared, though it 
has left indelible traces on the language and racial charac- 
teristics of Abyssinia. The principal Hamite — or Hamitic 
negroid — tribes in East Africa are the Abyssinians, the 
Somalis, the GaUas, the Masai, the Wahima, and the IsTandi ; 
in West Africa the Pulani, supposed to be descended from 
the Berbers. All have been modified to a greater or less 
degree by admixture with negro blood, which has produced 
racial types differing from each other, and widely different 
from the negro type. They vary in their mental and physical 
characteristics according to the amount of negro blood in 
their veins, which has shown itself extremely potent in 
assimilating alien strains to its own type. Perhaps the most 
distinctive external characteristic — ^much more reliable than 
that of colour — by which the degree of negro blood may be 
gauged, is the hair growth on the head and face, varying from 
the wooUy head and smooth face of the pure negro, to the 
straight hair and bearded face of the Asiatic. 

' Sir H. Clifford in his address to the Nigerial Council (Dec. 1920), received 
since first these pages were written, gives a very striking description of the 
greater contrast between West African tribes than between European nations. 
' ' Even the Singalese of Ceylon as an Aryan people are more nearly allied to the 
English and Germans than are to one another many of the peoples of West 

^ The existence of non-negro tribes in the extreme south is regarded by some 
as evidence that in very ancient times the conquering Hamites traversed the 
whole continent. 


The Hamites and Hamitic negroids are " slim and wiry 
in build, markedly dolichocephalous, with high narrow fore- 
heads, good features, reddish complexions, plentiful frizzy 
hair, and small hands and feet." ^ They exhibit, as we shall 
see, powers of social organisation and intellectual develop- 
ment in advance of the pure negro stock. ^ They are capable 
of immense physical endurance, but do not possess the phy- 
sique and strength of the negroes. They are generally nomadic 
and pastoral, and for the most part have embraced Islam. 

The finer negro races, among whom are included the group 
of tribes known as the Bantus, have no doubt in prehistoric 
times assimilated alien blood, which has diilerentiated them 
from the aboriginal negro type. They may, however, be said 
to constitute the general negro race-type of to-day. The skidl 
and forehead are better developed, and the thick lips, the 
bridgeless nose, and the prognathous jaw are less pronounced 
than in the more archaic type. Their intelligence is more 
developed, and many tribes have reached a degree of social 
organisation which, in some cases, has attained to the kingdom 
stage under a despot with provincial chiefs of the feudal type. 

The negroes, and the negroids who approximate most 
closely in race-type to them, consist of innumerable tribes — ^ta 
Northern Mgeria alone there are said to be about 380 — which 
have each their own special traits, but they share in varying 
degrees the general characteristics of the negro. In colour 
they are very black, with woolly hair growing in little tufts 
on the scalp, and with practically none on the face. They are 
for the most part settled agriculturists, though the aborigtaal 
types, such as the Pigmies, the Wanderobbo, and the Wasania 
are nomad hunters. 

The Bantus, and most other negroes, are physically fine 
specimens of the human race. Powerfully built, they are 
capable of great feats of strength and endurance. Indi- 
viduals win carry a load of 100 lbs. on their heads from 
morning till night, up hihs and through swamps, with but 
brief intervals for rest. The King's messengers in Uganda, 
in Mtesa's time, were, I believe, expected to cover sixty 
miles in a day. 

1 See Admiralty manuals, 'Kenya,' 1216, pp. 236, 237, and 'Abyssinia,' 
pp. 104, 166, &c.. and Eliot, 'The East African Protectorate,' pp. 119, 133. 

^ We are told that the Bantus in Ruanda form 95 to 99 per cent of the popu- 
lation, but are kept in a servile status by their Wahima overlords. — Foreign Office 
Handbook 113, p. 10. 


In character and temperament the typical African of this 
race-type is a happy, thriftless, excitable person, lacMng ia 
self-control, discipline, and foresight, naturally courageous, 
and naturally courteous and polite, full of personal vanity, 
with little sense of veracity, fond of music, and " loving 
weapons as an oriental loves jewelry." His thoughts are 
concentrated on the events and feeUngs of the moment, and 
he suffers little from apprehension for the future, or grief 
for the past. " His mind," says Sir C. Eliot, " is far nearer 
to the animal world than that of the European or Asiatic, 
and exhibits something of the animal's placidity and want 
of desire to rise beyond the state he has reached," — in proof 
of which he cites the lack of decency in the disposal of the 
dead, the state of complete nudity common to one or other, or 
to both sexes among so many tribes, the general (though not 
imiversal) absence of any feeling for art (other than music), 
and the nomadic habits of so large a section of the race. 

Through the ages the African has evolved no organised 
religious creed, and though some tribes appear to believe in 
a deity, the religious sense seldom rises above pantheistic 
animism, and seems more often to take the form of a vague 
dread of the supernatural. It is curious that whereas in East 
Africa Sir C. Eliot observes that prayers are always addressed 
to a benevolent deity, in the West the prevalent idea seems 
to be the propitiation of a malevolent spirit. Belief in the 
power of the witch and wizard, and of the Juju-priest and 
witch-doctor, in charms and fetish, and in the ability of 
individuals to assume at wiU the form of wild beasts, are 
also common among many tribes. To these superstitions the 
Hamite is less prone. 

The African negro is not naturally cruel, though his own 
insensibility to pain, and his disregard for life — ^whether his 
own or another's — cause him to appear callous to suffering. 
He sacrifices life freely under the influence of superstition, 
or in the lust and excitement of battle, or for ceremonial 
display. The wholesale executions of Mtesa of Uganda, or 
Behanzin of Dahomey, would seem to have been dictated 
rather by a desire for the ostentatious display of power, or 
even by a blood-lust, than by a love of witnesstag pain. If 
mutilation and other inhuman punishments are inflicted, it 
is because nothing less would be deterrent. 

He lacks power of organisation, and is conspicuously de- 


flcient ill the management and control alike of men or of 
business. He loves the display of power, but fails to realise 
its responsibility. His most universal natural ability lies in 
eloquence and oratory. He is by no means lacking in industry, 
and will work hard with a less incentive than most races. 
He has the courage of the fighting animal — an instinct rather 
than a moral virtue. He is very prone to imitate anything 
new in dress or custom, whether it be the turban and flowing 
gown of the Moslem, or the straw hat and trousers of the 
European, however unsuited to his environment and con- 
ditions of life. He is an apt pupU, and a faithful and devoted 

In brief, the virtues and "the defects of this race-type are 
those of attractive children, whose confidence when once it 
has been won is given ungrudgingly as to an older and wiser 
superior, without question and without envy. " Valiant, 
clever, and lovable, they bear no malice and nurse no griev- 
ance." ^ 

To attempt to condense into a paragraph or two a subject 
which would provide material for as many chapters, is to 
court contradiction, and indeed there is hardly a single trait 
that I have named to which I caimot quote striking excep- 
tions within my own experience. For the ability to evolve 
an organised system we may point to the Baganda, the Benis, 
and the Yorubas, no less than to the Abyssinians and the 
Pulani ; for indigenous art to the bronzes and the wood- 
carving of the Benis, the cloths and leather- work of the Hausas 
and Yorubas, and the bead and straw work of Uganda ; for 
natural religion to the ancestor-worship of the Bantus and 
other tribes ; and so on. But, speaking generally, the char- 
acteristics of the predominantly negro races are, I think, as 
I have described them, and Sir Chas. Eliot from personal 
experience extends his description to the West Indies and the 
Southern States of America.^ 

Perhaps the two traits which have impressed me as those 
most characteristic of the African native are his lack of appre- 
hension and iuabUity to visualise the future, and the stead- 
fastness of his loyalty and affection. In illustration of the 
former, I may recall two incidents, told elsewhere, which 

' Sir F. Fuller (of the Ashantie), 'A Vanished Dynasty.' 

"^ His description of the African is, I think, the best I have read. — Loc. cit., 
chap. iv. 


occurred in my earliest experience of Africa thirty odd years 
ago, and seemed to me to afford a clue to his character and 
modes of thought. 

We were about to attack a powerfully-constructed stockade, 
defended by a band of well-armed, slave-raiding Arabs. It 
was a hazardous enterprise, and the event proved that it was 
beyond our ability. We could not but expect a heavy loss of 
life. We had made an all-night march to effect a surprise, 
and as I lined up the men in the dark in front of the stockade, 
which in a few minutes we were about to charge, they in- 
stantly fell asleep ! Later our scouting parties caught a man 
with a cow. He was a Mkond^, one of the timid unwarlike 
tribe which had been wiped out by the slave-raiders, and to 
whose rescue we had come. Questioned. as to how he had got 
the cow, he replied that he had stolen it from the Arab 
stockade. CrawHng up in the dark of night he had slowly 
dug out one pole after another, and made a breach through 
the wall until he had effected an entrance. Did he not feel 
afraid when he heard the sentries of the Slavers chanting 
their challenge to each other from their watch-towers close 
by ? He explained in reply that there was no ground for 
misgiving, since he himself was only worth as a slave a 
quarter part of the value of the cow. The risk was worth 
taking, for the prospective gain was 3 to 1 on his stake. 
That it should make any difference that his own life was 
the stake in question was outside his comprehension, and 
his apologies were abject for his presumption in having 
secured an article so much more valuable than himself. He 
implored me to take it and spare his Ufe. When I praised 
him for his pluck, and sent him away the possessor of the 
cow, his delight was ludicrous, but both he and his captors 
thought me mad. Criminals condemned to death show the 
same lack of apprehension until the moment of execution 

I can give no better illustration of the constancy and 
single-mindedness of the African's friendship than the letters 
I continue to receive from chiefs in Uganda and Toro, though 
it is over twenty-nine years since I left their country. They 
cannot be prompted by any possible self-interest, and the 
initiative was theirs. 

The character in which the African presents himself de- 
pends very greatly on the personality of the officer with 


whom he has to deal. Continuity alike of personnel and 
policy is essential to gain his confidence and to effect pro- 
gress. Each new step must be introduced with care, and 
above all there must be no vacillation or change of front, 
and no broken promises. These natural characteristics have 
been modified, and in many cases completely changed, by 
two very powerful agencies. The first, as we have seen, is 
the influence of Asiatic immigration ; the second is the 
introduction of monotheistic religions and of European and 
Asiatic education. 

Such in brief are the peoples for whose welfare we are re- 
sponsible in British tropical Africa. They have a fascination 
of their own, for we are dealing with the chUd races of the 
world, and learning at first hand the habits and customs of 
primitive man ; not of some derelict and decadent remnaint 
such as the aborigines of Australia, the Todas of India, or the 
Ainus of the Japanese islands, but of a virile and expanding 
race whose men are often models of symmetry and strength — 
a race which Ulustrates every stage in the evolution of human 
society, from the hardly himian bushman of the Kalahari 
and the lowest type of cannibal, to the organised despotism 
and barbaric display of a negro kingdom like that of Uganda 
as we found it, where royalty is hedged about with more 
observance than in a modern palace in Europe ; or to the 
educated native community, a few at least of whose members 
boast a training in the English universities and medical 
schools, or who, on the other hand, have inherited a civilisa- 
tion drawn from the East, and owing much to Arabic litera- 
ture and the teaching of Islam. Manifestly the system of 
administration suited to such diverse conditions of social 
organisation must vary greatly if it is to command the co- 
operation and hearty acquiescence of the people themselves, 
and be effective in promoting the progress of each to a higher 

From the point of view of the administrator, it wiU be con- 
venient to classify the people of tropical Africa into three 
groups, according to their social organisation — viz., the primi- 
tive tribes, the advanced communities, and the Europeanised 
Africans. Such a division connotes a more real and profound 
difference than that of racial affinities, for intermarriage and 
concubinage with alien captives and slaves have tended to 
obliterate tribal characteristics. 


The primitive peoples are usually classed by the anthropo- 
logist as settled tribes and pastorals.^ The latter are nomadic 
in their habits, following their flocks and herds according to 
the season of the year, and building no cities. The tendency 
persists even among some of the settled tribes, who, like the 
Eikuyu in East Africa, the Kanuri of Bornu, and some Congo 
tribes, constantly desert their villages and fields and migrate 
to new sites in search of fertUe land. 

The settled tribes are almost entirely agriculturists, though 
a small section is engaged in industrial crafts — ^weaving, 
dyeing, and the forging of implements of agriculture or of 
war. Exchange of such articles is conducted in well-attended 
markets. Those tribes, however, which inhabit the coastal 
regions intersected by innumerable salt-water creeks, and 
covered by the densest forest growth, or interspaced by 
dreary mUes of mangrove-swamp, are precluded from engag- 
ing to any great extent in agriculture, and sustain life chiefly 
by fishing. Since flocks and herds wiU not survive, and animal 
life is scarce, they have no flesh diet, and often resort to 
cannibalism." Here the exuberant vegetation is too much 
for man, and the lowest and most primitive tribes are to be 

Thus before European intervention changed the conditions 
of Ufe in Africa, it was the dweller in the plains and the 
fertile plateaux, and not, as in Europe, the dwellers in the 
mountains, who were the virile and fighting races. On the 
plains the cattle-owning nomads must graze their herds, and 
be prepared to defend them with their lives. The settled 
population must no less be able to repel assaidt on the village 
flocks and on their crops, and they built walled cities for 
protection. The natural wealth of the African consists of 
live stock, and it is the ambition of the labourer and the 
peasant to buy one or two head of cattle and several wives. 
The system of land-tenure (to which I shall refer later) does 
not encourage the acquisition of personal property in land, 
and it is held only as a means of satisfying the absolute 
necessities of life. Women and children assist in production, 
and no more land is desired than will produce these neces- 

1 To these may be added the primitive hunting tribes, who wander in search 
of game, like the Wanderobbo and the Pigmies. 

'^ It is the craving for flesh which drives the human animal to cannibalism — in 
Fiji the practice was abandoned on the introduction of swine. 


sities. But cattle represent individual and communal wealth. 
The mountains, on the other hand, are the refuge of the 
conquered, where they may escape extermination and lead 
a precarious existence on the hill-tops. 

Though as a rule the desires of the pastoral tribes are 
limited to the acquisition of grazing lands, and they were 
indifferent to territorial sovereignty, it would seem that small 
sections were otherwise minded. Thus in South-East Africa 
the cattle-owning Zulus (with their off-shoots, the Magwan- 
gwara and Mangoni) founded in Zululand the dynasty of 
Tchaka, and further north the Wahima became kings of 
Uganda, Unyoro, and Ankol^. In the west the Pulani pas- 
torals in like manner became the dominant race. The Masai 
and the SomaUs, on the other hand, though they held un- 
disputed sway over the greater part of East Africa, founded 
no dynasties. But though in these instances the pastorals 
created the governing caste over the settled agriculturists, 
the bulk of the tribe remained as semi-nomad pastorals, com- 
pletely out of touch with their aristocratic kinsmen, socially 
less advanced than the settled and urban population, but 
maintaining by rigorous ordeals and tests a high standard 
of personal courage and endurance.^ The ruling classes, on 
the other hand, became enervated by luxury. The offspring 
of their innumerable negro concubines lost the distinctive 
characteristics of their pastoral ancestors, and in Mwanga 
of Uganda, Kabarega of Unyoro, and many of the Fulani 
Emirs of Mgeria, we see the negro type markedly asserting 
itself. Probably most of these pastoral tribes were of Asiatic 
origin, and migrated slowly from north to south. 

The aboriginal negroes, driven by the advancing migrations 
from the plains and plateaux, found refuge in the mountains, 
or in the dense forests or the interminable swamps of the 
equatorial belt, such as surround the upper reaches of the 
Wile and Zambesi, and the delta of the Mger. In such 
regions — ^including the coast lands of West Africa — may there- 
fore be found the purest negro types. Where detached moun- 
tain masses afforded a refuge from pursuit, we find a con- 
fusing number of remnants of tribes, so that in the single 

' Fulani youths voluntarily subject themselves to a merciless flogging before 
they are allowed the privileges of manhood. If the youth flinches or cries out 
he is degraded for a year. The scars of this flogging are generally visible all 
his life. 


mountainous province of Bauchi (Mgeria) it has been esti- 
mated that no fewer than sixty-four different languages are 

These primitive tribes vary in social status from those who 
recognise no chief and are still in the patriarchal stage, lack- 
ing any but the most rudimentary communal organisation,! 
up to those with weU-deflned tribal institutions, till they 
merge into the second class of more " advanced communities." 
Every phase of human evolution may be studied as a living 
force. Among the most primitive the family is the unit, and 
even the village head has but little authority. Among many 
both sexes are entirely nude. They are usually industrious 
agriculturists or fishermen, but, especially in West Africa, 
are generally the victims of gross and cruel superstitions 
and of degrading practices, such as cannibalism, human sacri- 
fice, and the murder of twins, &c.^ 

Among those who have reached the tribal stage, with 
recognised chiefs and some cohesion for attack and defence, 
a few have evolved systems of government more or less 
efficient imder paramount rulers, with an elaborate subdivi- 
sion of authority and ceremonial observance. They have, 
however, been unable to evolve a written language, or any 
approach to culture.* 

Where these institutions were of indigenous growth, or 
fell under the rule of dynasties preponderantly negro, they 
appear to have become despotisms marked by a ruthless 
disregard for human life. Holocausts of victims were sacri- 
ficed to appease the deity, or at the whim of the despot. 

^ Ifc is in the lowest stages of human intercourse that men and women herd 
together, and individual effort and aspiration is effaced in the communal 
principle. Yet in such communities, I believe, some bond, however fragile, 
exists between a man and the mother of his child. It is to a still lower plane 
which the cannibal savage — nay, the anthropoid apes — have left behind them — 
the level of mere gregarious mammals, that Bolshevist theorists aspire to drag 
western civilisation. 

^ Among the Baganda and Banyoro in East Africa, the birth of twins is, on the 
contrary, an occasion of great rejoicing. — 'Notes on Waganda and Wanyoro 
Tribes,' Felkin, pp. 62 and 82. It is interesting to note that the moral sense 
finds expression even in the cannibal. Asked if he would eat his mother, a 
cannibal expressed horror at the thought. Only "bad men," he said, would 
so degrade themselves. 

^ The very remarkable chief of the little state of Fumban in the Cameruns 
(whose dearest wish it was to be taken under British rule) had not only 
introduced an administrative system inc5mparably more advanced than those 
of his neighbours, but had even invented an alphabet, and reduced his language 
to writing. — See the interesting account by Capt. Stobart in 'Blackwood's,' 
March 1920, p. 380. 


Such were the kingdoms of Uganda and Unyoro in the 
east, and of Dahomey, Ashanti, and Benin in the west. Even 
where this wholesale butchery was not a primary feature of 
the despotism, the social organisation was honeycombed by 
secret societies, whose ritual was a mystic secret, appeasing 
the deity by human blood, as in the ancient Toruba nation 
under its semi-divine head, the Alafin. 

But for the most part the progressive communities adopted, 
and owed their advance to the adoption of, an aUen mono- 
theistic rehgion, which brought with it a written language 
and a foreign culture. It is to the creed of Islam that this 
political and social iufluence has iu the past alone been due. 
It has been the more potent as a creative and regenerating 
force, because it brought with it an admixture of Aryan or 
Hamitic blood, and the races which introduced it settled in 
the country and became identified with its iahabitants. They 
possessed greater powers of social organisation than the negro 
aborigiaes, and may therefore claim to be of a superior race- 

In West Africa the conquests of the Arabs and Berbers 
from the north-east introduced the creed of Islam in the 
belt bordering the southern edge of the Sahara early in the 
eighth century. The modern history of the advanced com- 
munities of Hausaland and Bornu in Mgeria " may be said 
to date from the period at which they accepted the Moslem 
religion, though the purer black races had established their 
domination over the inferior, and ruled by force of superior 
intelligence and cultivation long before that time." ^ They 
founded kingdoms which, in the zenith of their prosperity, 
rivalled the civilisation of Europe of that day. Their de- 
scendants, the Pulani, stUl form the dominant caste, and rule 
the Moslem States of Mgeria. 

In East Africa, Arab Moslems from the Persian Gulf founded 
the dynasty of Zanzibar, and Bedouin Arabs became the 
rulers of the NUe Sudan ; but though their creed has made 
its influence felt in UsTyasaland and in the Tanganyika terri- 
tory, and was at one time dominant in Uganda, they cannot 

1 " Neither in respect alone of colour, nor of descent, nor even of high intellectual 
capacity, can science give us any warrant for speaking of one race as superior to 
another. . . . There is but one absolute test of superiority. It is only the race 
possessing in the highest degree the qualities contributing to social efficiency that 
can be recognised as having any claim to superiority." — Kidd, loo. cit., p. 98. 

^ ' A Tropical Dependency,' Lady Lugard, p. 21. 


claim to have founded any other native States in British 
East Africa. 

Moslem rule, while enforcing the social regulations of the 
Koran, has generally incorporated whatever indigenous sys- 
tems were worthy of survival. The system of government, 
of dress, and of social observance thus obtained a hold upon 
the people which the more alien habits and dress of Europe 
— ^ill-adapted to a tropical country — could not achieve. Islam 
looks for its language, literature, and culture to Arabic and 
the East. As a religion it does not evoke in the pure negro 
the ardent zeal which it excites in the races of alien or of 
mixed blood, and there is often little to differentiate the 
peasant or labourer who caUs himself a Mahomedan from his 
pagan brother. 

Islam as a militant creed which teaches contempt for those 
who are not its votaries, panders to the weakness of the 
African character — self-conceit and vanity. Centuries of law- 
less strife have made the African a worshipper of force, and 
he has been quick to adopt the creed of the conqueror, chiefly 
for the prestige it brought. Its very excesses, the capture 
of women as slaves and concubines, and the looting of 
villages, though hateful enough when he is himself the 
victim, form the beau ideal of his desires if he can be 
the aggressor. It is the law of might to which he is 

And there is much else which appeals to the African and 
suits his conditions, in the reUgion of Mahomet. It sanctions 
polygamy, which is natural to the tropics. It not merely 
approves the institution of domestic slavery, but has done 
much harm by countenancing the ruthless raiding for slaves. 
It has the attraction of an indigenous religion spread by the 
people themselves, or by men of like race with similar social 
standards, and not depending on the supervision of aUen 
teachers. Its great strength lies in the fact that it combtaes 
a social code with simple religious forms, and is thus inter- 
woven with the daily life of its followers. Originating in the 
tropics, it is essentially a code and a religion of the tropics, 
which has never made headway in the temperate zones, just 
as Christianity has been the religion of the temperate cHmates. 
Considering, however, the many centuries of unopposed oppor- 
tunity which it had enjoyed, Islam has made singularly little 
progress in Africa, except among the Hamite and negroid 


tribes, and, generally speaking, has not been adopted by the 
negro races. ^ 

Mr Bosworth-Smith shows that it is a religion incapable 
of the highest development,^ but its limitations suit the 
limitations of the people. It has undeniably had a civilising 
effect, abolishing the gross forms of pagan superstition and 
barbarous practices, and adding to the dignity, self-respect, 
and self-control of its adherents.^ Though its tenets among 
the ignorant peasantry are (as in India) far from orthodox, 
and much coloured by superstition, its general effect has been 
to encourage abstinence from intoxicants, a higher standard 
of life and decency, a better social organisation and tribal 
cohesion, with a well-defined code of justice. 

Christianity, on the other hand, has not proved so powerful 
an influence for the creation of political and social organisa- 
tions, though in recent years, combined with Western educa- 
tion, we have seen remarkable results in Uganda, and in a less 
degree among the Egbas and others in West Africa. Its 
more abstruse tenets, its stricter code of sexual morality, its 
exaltation of peace and humility, its recognition of brother- 
hood with the slave, the captive, and the criminal, do not 
altogether. appeal to the temperament of the negro. 

On the other hand, it has a most powerful auxiliary in its 
hymns and church music, which are infinitely attractive to 
him, as well as the frequent occasions it affords for a display 
of oratory. Christianity is, I think, sometimes apt to produce 
in its converts an attitude of intolerance, not intended by its 
teachers, towards native rulers,* native customs, and even to 
native dress, especially when wholesale conversions have over- 
taxed the supervision of the European mission staff. Its 
constructive efforts (combined with Western education) are 
to be foimd chiefly among the Europeanised natives, to whom 
I shall presently refer. 

1 Eliot, loc. cit., p. 96. Sir F. Fuller, loc. cit, p. 223. Even among the 
Nilotic negroes, most continuously exposed to its influence, Islam made little 
progress, and a Sliilluk who became a Moslem was looked on as a disgrace to the 
tribe.— F.O. Handbook 98, p. 55. 

^ ' Mahomet and Mahomedanism. ' 

' Dr Blyden, who has been acclaimed as one of the most distinguished of 
native African writers, says of Islam in Africa : " It has been the most effective 
instrument in moulding the intellectual, social, and political character of the 
millions whom it has brought under its influence. ... It is the most effective 
educational force in Negroland."— 'West Africa before Europe,' pp. 39, 74. 

* See Fuller, loc. cit., p. 223, &c. 


The advanced commuaities, then, whether their organisa- 
tion was self-evolved by pagan races, or due to the advent 
of conquerors of alien blood, and the introduction of Islam, 
held sway over their less progressive neighbours, whom they 
raided and enslaved. They rapidly developed the commercial 
instinct, and the traders of the Hausa States, the Yorubas 
and others, carried the produce of one district, or the im- 
ported goods from the coast, to another, in organised caravans. 
They built great cities (but of no permanent material), and 
developed the industrial arts. They introduced a highly 
centralised form of government, systems of taxation, and 
courts of justice, and jealously guarded their own customs 
and social organisation from European interference. Agri- 
culture, with the help of slave-labour, remained the staple 
industry, and the dyer continued to grow his own indigo, 
and the weaver his cotton. 

I come now to the last group — ^the Europeanised Africans 
— ^who are chiefly to be found in West Africa. Since they 
form but an infinitesimal fraction of the thirty-eight million 
tohabitants of British tropical Africa — ^though south of the 
Zambesi they may be foimd in greater nxmibers — ^they wotdd 
hardly seem to merit a class to themselves. But they occupy 
a position of importance out of proportion to their mere 
numbers. They sit on the Legislative Councils, and make 
their voices and opinions heard through the medium of their 
own press and in other ways. Whereas those progressive 
elements which assisted in developing the " advanced com- 
munities " penetrated Africa from the north-east across the 
desert, — ^for the Zanzibar Arabs from overseas added little to 
social progress, — European influence was the direct outcome 
of the conquest of the ocean, and its earliest origin dates from 
Vasco da Gama's circumnavigation of the continent in the 
fifteenth century. European connection with tropical Africa 
was at first suUied by the overseas slave-trade, and its educa- 
tional and reUgious influence — which brought the European- 
ised African into existence — can only be said to have become 
an effective force in the west in the middle of the nineteenth 
century, and some decades later in the east. 

The Europeanised African differs not merely in mental 
outlook from the other groups, but also in physique. Doctors 
and dentists teU us that he has become less fertile, more 
susceptible to lung -trouble and to other diseases, and to 


defective dentition — disabilities which have probably arisen 
from in-breeding among a very limited class, and to the 
adoption of European dress, which writers in the native 
press say is enervating and inimical to the health of the 

Europeanised Africans represent no tribe or community, 
but form a class apart in the principal cities of the West Coast, 
where they reside in a varying minority among an illiterate 
population ui the tribal stage of development, amid sordid 
surroundings for men of education and culture. They may 
belong to one or other of the neighbouriag tribes and speak 
their language, or they may, as in Sierra Leone, be the 
descendants of liberated slaves, ignorant of any African 
language. Individuals complete their education in England 
and return as ministers of religion, barristers, doctors, and 
journalists. Some few are traders on their own account, 
but the large majority have a very incomplete education, 
and are content to fill subordinate posts as clerks in the 
service of Government, or of commercial firms. Some have 
shown a balanced judgment, and have been of assistance 
to the local governments as members of the Legislature and 
of Municipal Boards, but the native press is too often notable 
for its invective and racial animosity. The most popular 
professions are those of the law — which affords opportunity 
for the African's gift of oratory — and journalism.^ 

The educated African imitates European dress and customs 
closely, however iU adapted to his conditions of life, and 
may be heard to speak of going " home " to England. He 
has, as a rule, little in common with the indigenous tribes 
of Africa, and seldom leaves his native town except to travel 

^ The records in Sierra Leone "tend to show that the deaths considerably 
exceed the births," and the population of the colony is apparently maintained by 
immigrants from the protectorate. — F. 0. Handbook 92, p. 8. 

^ Writing of the American negro, Mr Graham observes that " he has a passion 
for journalism in advance of his present development and capacity " (' Children 
of the Slaves,' p. 53). Each of the British colonies in West Africa boasts of 
several newspapers owned and edited by natives. The Governor of the Gold 
Coast has recently pointed out the injury to racial co-operation done by the 
local press. Its invective is much read by schoolboys, and Mr Carr (Acting 
Director of Education, Nigeria — a native) was of opinion that it does much 
"grievous harm." Dr Blyden remarks that at St Louis (capital of French 
Senegal), "where there is every facility for such a thing, they have not a single 
newspaper ; and they are happier for it than their brethren in other parts of 
Africa, who rejoice in the advantages and 'freedom of the Press'" ('West Africa 
before Europe,' p. 90). The French law of 1881 regarding native newspapers 
has by a recent decree been made more stringent. 


by sea or railway.^ The Ettropeanised African is indeed 
separated from the rest of the people by a gulf which no 
racial aflfinity can bridge. He must be treated — and seems 
to desire to be treated — as though he were of a difEerent race. 
Some even appear to resent being called negroes, the universal 
race-term in America. The Eev. E. Keable complains lq 
' East and West ' that even native priests showed in the 
war a contempt for and aloofness from the natives ia their 
spiritual charge unknown between white men of unequal 
social standing. 

The " Montague-Chelmsford Eeport " describes the poUti- 
caUy-minded Indian in terms which are singularly appropriate 
to the educated African. " He is a creation peculiarly our 
own, the product of an educational policy in the past, which 
aimed at satisfying the few who sought after English educa- 
tion, without sufficient thought of the consequences which 
might ensue from not taking care to extend instruction to 
the many." It was due to that policy (says the report) that 
the Indian adopted as a rule the non-practical professions bt 
law, journalism, and teaching, which magnify the importance 
of words and phrases, and he has only recently been encour- 
aged to create wealth by applying his knowledge to industrial 
enterprise. But the Indian progressive, however divergent 
from the mass of the people in habits of thought, yet speaks 
their language, shares their customs and religion, and knows 
their country. Though the percentage of Indians who speak 
English is infinitesimal compared with the total population, 
it is probably twenty times greater than the percentage of 
English-speaking Africans to the population of Africa, and 
includes a certain number who have administrative and 
municipal experience. 

Perhaps it may be said that the number of Europeanised 
natives in West Africa is too small to justify any generalisa- 
tions. Let us turn therefore to America, where for a couple 
of generations at least the African has had an opportimity 
of vindicating his status, and of proving his capacity for 
social progress. The negro population of the United States 
reaches some 12,000,000 souls, and though there is a con- 
siderable admixture of European blood, his progress there 
will afford some clue as to the capability of the race for 
intellectual development and social organisation. The ' Times ' 

' See the statement by Chief-Justice Sir K. Speed, quoted in Cmd. 468, p. 80. 



correspondent draws a disheartening picture,^ and American 
opinion seems to be equally pessimistic. Dr Stoddard,^ like 
M. Beaulieu,^ is emphatic that " black Africa is unable to 
stand alone," and quotes Meredith Townsend's observation 
that the negro race " has never evolved a civilisation, a litera- 
ture, or a creed, or founded a stone city, or built a ship, or 
exercised the smallest influence over people not black." * 

Such men as Booker Washington and Moton prove, however, 
that the negro race can at the least produce individuals of 
great force of character and high ideals. Dr Moton's recent 
book 5 combines high idealism with practical organising ability. 
Du Bois — albeit not of pure negro blood — is said to have the 
gift of leadership.^ He touches the true source of the im- 
happiness and discontent of the Europeanised or Americanised 
negro, when he asserts that " in order to attain his place in 
the world the negro must be himself and not another." ' 

^ "The intellectual negro," he writes, "seems to take rather kindly to 
socialism and organised agitation, and the further upwards they move in 
the social scheme the greater their discontent. . . . The fact remains that, 
after more than half a century of freedom and educational opportunity, they 
have not been able to rise to a plane above that of agitator, or to carve out for 
themselves a satisfactory position in the body politic." — ' Times,' 16th Oct. 1919. 

' ' The Rising Tide of Colour,' p. 102. 

' " Bien plus nous croyons que I'autorit^ Europienne ne devra pas dtre 
temporaire dans la majeure partie de I'Afrique ; ce n'est pas une simple affaire 
d'eduoation devant durer un ou deux siteles, c'est une organisation definitive. 
Le climat des regions equatorials et tropicales de I'Afrique ainsi de la race qui 
s'y trouve etablie ne nous paraissent pas de nature k pouvoir rendre jamais 
compatible autant qu'on en pent juger la prosp^rit^ de ces contre^s et leur 
absolue autonomic, 11 serait h craindre que une fois detaches mSme dans deux 
ou trois sifecles des Metropoles ces pays . . . revinssent apres deux ou trois 
generations k la barbaric primitive. Toutes les colonies ne sont pas destinfe 
& s'emanciper." — Vol. i. pp. 291-2. See notes p. 198. 

■■ 'Asia and Europe,' pp. 92, 356-358. = ' Finding a Way Out.' 

' ' The Children of the Slaves,' S. Graham, p. 261. See also article, " The 
Colour Problem," ' Edin. Review,' April 1921. 

' 'The Souls of Black Folk,' Du Bois, p. 8. A series of interesting articles 
appeared in the Sierra Leone and Lagos native press in Feb. 1902. "The foreign 
and uncongenial life can only avail to display the oddities and eccentricities that 
naturally attach to abnormal or hybrid life," says the former ; while the Lagos 
writer laments that by adopting foreign education and a foreign mode of life 
Africans have become foreigners to their own people, with whom they can only 
converse through interpreters. There is no class, says the writer, which is less 
welcome to the lay Englishman than the " black white man " who has abandoned 
his racial integrity and is quick to learn European vices. Compare Locke's 
observation that to teach a child contrary to his natural bent is to produce 
affectation. "The negro," says Lebon, " will never be fit for institutions which 
are not in some way a direct outcome of the negro character." Dr Blyden 
expresses the same view : " Progress must be along the line of our own institu- 
tions. Intellectual development must be of his own powers — the present policy 
makes the African a caricature." 


Dr Moton, head of the splendidly organised Tuskegee Institu- 
tion, gave dignified expression to the same' feeUng when, after 
a prolonged tour in Europe, he -wrote : " I landed on American 
shores with the feeling that whatever may be the disadvan- 
tages and inconveniences of my race in America, I would 
rather be a negro in the United States than anybody else in 
any other country in the world." ^ 

This leads us to the consideration of the recent claims by 
the educated West African for a larger share in the govern- 
ment. I do not refer to the spectacle of Mr Garvey, " Pro- 
visional President of Africa, arrayed in a flowing robe of 
crimson slashed with green," claiming to found a single 
republic for the whole continent, and parading the streets 
of Hew York with six bands,^ for such wild schemes can only 
fill the cultured and thoughtful African with regret and 
misgiviQg, and in the words of Dr Moton, lead " many honest 
and sincere white people to doubt the wisdom of educating 
the coloured man." 

But movements such as the Pan-African Congress, which 
met at Paris under the presidency of M. Diagne — a native 
African, and Deputy for Senegal — during the Peace Confer- 
ence, stand, in a different category, and in so far as they 
give expression to the desire for a larger individual and collec- 
tive responsibility and liberty — ^which is the natural outcome 
of British teaching — may be regarded as indications of pro- 
gress. The principles to which the resolution of the Congress 
gave expression are in the main reasonable, and differ little 
from those which have guided Great Britain in her dealings 
with the tropical races,' but like the so-called " National 

' Loc. cit., p. 152. ' 'Times,' 2nd Sept. 1920. 

^ The terms of the resolution were as follows : — 

The Governments of the Allies and their associates should establish an inter- 
national code of laws for the protection of natives. A permanent secretariat in 
the League of Nations should see to the application of these laws. 

The coloured races of the world desire that henceforth the natives of Africa 
and peoples of African origin should be governed everywhere in accordance with 
the following principles : — 

(1) The Land. — The soil and its natural resources shall be reserved and safe- 
guarded for the natives, who shall have effective ownership of the lands they 

(2) Capital. — A system of concessions shaU be so fashioned as to prevent the 
native from being exploited and the natural riches of the country from being 
drained. These concessions should be only temporary, and be under State 
supervision. Note should be taken of the growing needs of natives, and part of 
tlie profits should be used for the moral and material development of the native. 

(3) Labour. — The abolition of slavery and corporal punishment of any nature. 


Conference," which recently laid a petition before the King, 
the Congress could lay no claim to be considered as repre- 
sentative of Africa, which is, of course, too vast a country 
and with too diversified a population to be represented by 
any delegation from any particular region. 

The latter body consisted of a group of native barristers 
and others, for the most part resident in the Gold Coast, 
whose claim to represent the advanced thought and progres- 
sive elements of that colony was indignantly repudiated by 
certain of its chiefs, while probably no one in Mgeria outside 
the coast towns had ever heard of their existence. The 
Governor (Sir H. Clifford) poured scathing ridicule on " the 
fantastic claim to a common nationality," or to represent 
either the advanced or the primitive peoples of Mgeria, 
and the leading representative of native opinion in Lagos 
" protested with aU the emphasis at his command at the 
impudence of these people who style themselves representa- 
tives of Mgeria." In these circumstances it is not worth 
while to discuss their voluminous resolutions, but they were 
not couched in any spirit of disloyalty.^ 

In India the principle was enunciated that advancement 
in self-government must depend on the extent to which the 
educated class is in sympathy with, and capable of represent- 
ing the illiterate sections of the people. In this respect the 
claim of the African " intelligentsia " is, as we have seen, 
very weak, nor has the educated native, generally speaking, 
shown himself to be possessed of ability to rule either his 
own community or backward peoples of his own race, even 
under favourable conditions. " Can any one say that the 
Governments of Hayti, San Domingo, or even of Liberia are 

The abolition of forced labour, except as a penal procedure for the punishment 
of crimes. The promulgation of official labour rules. 

(4) Education. — Every coloured child shall be taught its mother tongue and 
the language of the trustee nation. Professional education shall be available. 

(5) Health. — A service of medical assistance, composed of hospitals and 
doctors, shall be established by the State which shall be responsible for the 
welfare of the inhabitants. 

(6) The State. — The coloured races of Africa shall be allowed gradually 
increased participation in the State, as their intellectual development improves, 
by virtue of the principle that governments exist for peoples and not peoples for 

' Mr Hayford, a member of the Delegation, quotes in his book, ' Gold Coast 
Native Institutions,' p. 312, the following appreciation of British rule: "We 
labour in vain to find one spot (upon the world-wide map of the British Empire), 
where the people possess in their own right such a rich and unhampered legacy 
of liberty, freedom, and enfranchisement as we should enjoy on the Gold Coast.'' 
See note on page 619. 


successful," asks a native writer who does not fear to face 
the facts.i 

However strong a sympathy we may feel for the aspirations 
of these African progressives, sane counsellors will advise 
them to recognise their present limitations. At no time in 
the world's history has there been so cordial a hand held 
out to Africa, such genuine admiration for the achievements 
of such men as Booker Washington and Moton, or a keener 
desire to assist the African in the path of progress, and in 
Mr Ehodes' words to grant " equal rights to all civilised men 
irrespective of race." " I think," said the Secretary of State 
for the Colonies (Mr Churchill), when addressing the Dominion 
Premiers in June last (1921), " there is only one ideal that the 
British Empire can set before itself, and that is that there 
should be no barrier of race, colour, or creed which should 
prevent any man by merit from reaching any station if he 
is fitted for it." 

Meantime there is abundant opportunity for the educated 
African, if he wiU avail himself of it, in the sphere of civic 
usefulness and the improvement of the conditions of the 
people in the cities in which he lives, and the community to 
which he belongs, and for whom he can claim to speak with 
knowledge. Let us learn from him how these opportimities 
can be enlarged, and he may rest assured that his opinions, 
and above aU his visible efforts to realise the obligations of 
his own municipality, will be met with sympathy. ^ Booker 
Washington's " first and last word was co-operation " — ^the 
aspiration to serve others and not himself. 

As a professional man the educated native can establish 
schools and obtain financial assistance under the educational 
code, or he can conduct hospitals and dispensaries. As a 
business man he can open hotels (which are much needed) 

' Nigerian ' Pioneer,' 13th Sept. 1918. See Stoddart's account of Hayti, loc. 
cit., pp. 141 and 100, &c. The Bpeeches of the present and late Presidents of 
Liberia are excellent essays on the art of government by a foreign ruler, but 
the reports which reach us of disregard for native rights, insecurity of trade, and 
lack of educational facilities testify to an inability to put them into practice. 

^ The determined hostility of the civilised native community to the imposition 
of any rates strikes at the very basis of municipal independence. In Lagos a 
moderate water-rate to defray in part the cost of a pure and abundant water- 
supply led to riots. In Sierra Leone the limitation of the hut-tax to the protecto- 
rate was adversely commented on by the Secretary of State. In the Gold Coast the 
Governor at one time had it in contemplation to abolish the small rates levied in 
certain coast towns, in view of the hostility of the people to them. This opposi- 
tion has in all cases been led by an influential section of the educated classes. 


or employ his knowledge and capital in scientific farming. 
In aU the channels of civic responsibility he can establish 
his claim to municipal self-government. (See chapter xxix.) 

The episode of the " National Conference Delegation " has 
served to give prominence to a principle of far-reaching 
importance, with which I shall deal more fully in the chapter 
on native rule — ^viz., whether the path to self-government 
alike among Oriental and African races may not better be 
sought by the education of their own rulers, and the gradual 
extension of their powers, than by the introduction of an 
alien system of rule by British - educated and politically- 
minded progressives. In a striking speech in the Gold Coast 
Legislature, Chief Ofori Atta, C.B.E., supported by the other 
three native members, maintained that the claim of a hand- 
ful of educated lawyers and doctors to represent the people, 
instead of their chiefs, was a base attempt to denationaUse 
the institutions of the country. In his cabled version of it 
to the Colonial Ofl&ce, the Governor says that the delegates 
have brought discredit on education since " illiterates have 
now a just complaint that education leads to belittling and 
ignoring the native rulers." ^ 

There is no colour bar in British Africa, and the educated 
native enjoys the fullest liberty. He is allowed the utmost 
licence in the newspapers he conducts, unless he oversteps 
the limits which render him liable for defamation or sedition. 
He engages in trade, in professional practice, and in recreations 
on equal terms with Europeans, and there are many highly- 
respected and influential native gentlemen who have availed 
themselves to the full of these facilities. Africans are ap- 
pointed to such posts in the administration as they are quali- 
fied by education and character to fiU. 

In an article on " the colour problem " contributed to the 
' Edinburgh Eeview ' of April 1921, I summarised my con- 
clusions in the following words, which the President of the 
United States recently quoted in a speech in the Southern 
States, as seeming to him to indicate " the true way out " : ^ 

^ Telegram communicated to the Press by the Colonial Office at the request of 
the Governor. The assertions were later denied by other chiefs. 

^ Speech at Birmingham, Alabama, 26th October 1921. Individual dislikes, and 
aversion to social intercourse, which between persons of the same race would be 
ascribed to their real causes, are often indiscriminately attributed to colour pre- 
judice. The desire to tread a separate path in matters social and racial is, as some 
coloured writers have assured us, as much desired by themselves as by whites. 


" Here, then, is the true conception of the inter-relation of 
colour : complete uniformity in ideals, absolute equality in 
the paths of knowledge and culture, equal opportunity for 
those who strive, equal admiration for those who achieve ; 
in matters social and racial a separate path, each pursuing 
his own inherited traditions, preserving his own race-purity 
and race-pride ; equality in things spiritual, agreed divergence 
in the physical and material." 

Addressing the Legislative Council in January 1921, the 
Governor of the Gold Coast said that he hoped to see 50 per 
cent of the present European stafE in the technical departments 
replaced by natives, and announced the appointment of a 
committee to elaborate the organisation of a native Civil 
Service. In Nigeria a native African of exceptional ability 
has long held the second highest post in the Education 
Department in the south, and frequently acted as its head, 
and was appointed by me to the highest executive post under 
the Administrator of the colony. Pour hold appointments 
as medical officers. In the Gold Coast the principal medical 
officer was at one time a native. That there are but few 
Africans in the higher branches of the Civil Service is in part 
due to the fact that few are well quaUfled by force of char- 
acter and educational attainments, and in part to the fact 
that unofficial activities offer prospects of more lucrative 
employment to the really capable. Few adopt the profession 
of engineering, and it is obvious that difficulties are Ukely 
to arise if a young African engineer is placed in charge of 
British platelayers, artisans, and sMlled foremen, but the 
Survey Department offers more scope. The subordinate 
clerical service is entirely manned by natives, as also the 
subordinate posts in the railway, engineering, medical, print- 
ing, survey, and other technical departments. In Mgeria 
it is roughly estimated that not less than 4500 posts in the 
clerical and 2500 in the technical departments are so held, 
with an aggregate of not less than £500,000 per annum in 
salaries.* Outside the Government service half the unofficial 
members of the Legislative Council of the colony and of the 
Town Council of Lagos are natives, and they are represented 
also in the Nigerian Council. Efforts have been made to 
enlist the active participation of African gentlemen on the 
advisory boards of the various townships, on school com- 

1 Cmd. 468 of 1920, p. 18. 


mittees, and similar orgamsations, both in the colony and in 
the protectorate. 

While, therefore, as we have seen, the educated native has 
not proved himself able to govern communities of which he is 
iQ no way representative, it is, on the other hand, most desir- 
able that natives who have the necessary quaMcations of 
character and education shoidd be afforded every opportunity 
of participating in the government of the community to which 
they belong, whether as civil servants or as unofficial members 
of municipal boards and councils, even if at first their stand- 
ards of attaimnent faU below those of the British staff, for 
it is only by the exercise of actual responsibility that efficiency 
can eventually be attained, and that a tradition of public 
service can be created. As Lord Milner, speaking at Oxford, 
observed: "We may even to some extent have to sacrifice 
efficiency of administration in order to promote contentment, 
though we cannot as honest trustees afford to sacrifice it 
too much." ^ 

I am, however, reluctantly compelled to admit that, so 
far as my own experience goes, it is extremely difficult at 
present to find educated African youths who are by character 
and temperament suited to posts in which they may rise to 
positions of high administrative responsibility.^ 

It is a natural presumption that the illiterate tribes would 
have more confidence in one of their own race and colour, 
who could speak their language fluently, view life from their 
standpoint, and understand and sympathise with their pre- 
judices as no European could. But I have been frequently 
assured by those who know them best that the illiterate 
native, even of the coast cities, is more ready to give his 
confidence to the white man than to the educated native. 

With the object of creating a class qualified by character 
and educational attainments to fill responsible positions under 
Government, I have suggested the formation of a native 
Cadet Service, the members of which by prolonging their 

• " We must be prepared to see Indian electorates hurt others— the helpless 
as well as themselves. It is the only way in which the spirit of trusteeship can 
be called into being and made to grow."— L. Curtis, quoted by Sir V. Chirol. 
'Times,' 7th June 1918. 

2 My personal experience is limited to the colony of Lagos, where a consider- 
able number of the leading native gentlemen are immigrants from the older 
colonies of Sierra Leone and the Gold Coast, in which, no doubt, a larger number 
are fitted for responsible positions. 


studies during the earlier years of their service under special 
arrangements, and specialising in such subjects as would 
qualify them for the higher posts, would form a class from 
which the Government could with confidence select proba- 
tioners for the Civil Service. I shall discuss this more fully 
in the chapter on education. The principle might perhaps 
be inaugurated by the formation at headquarters of a group 
of clerks specially recommended by heads of departments 
as qualifled for positions of responsibility and control, and 
by affording them facilities for special study. 

Some bitter criticisms have been made upon the educated 
African, and none perhaps more searching than that of his 
distinguished representative, the late Dr E. Blyden. A 
French writer draws the conclusion that a literary education 
on European lines has mischievous results, and that " Great 
Britain, though animated by a sense of duty and by a high 
ideal, is creating classes of natives who feel no gratitude to 
her, but, on the contrary, are bitterly hostile." ^ The edu- 
cated native would indignantly repudiate this charge, for he 
loves to present loyal addresses to the Throne. But he some- 
times fails to realise that loyalty does not begin and end 
by singing " God save the King," and is incompatible with 
racial antagonism, which treats with contempt the sym- 
pathetic efforts of those who, while recognising present limita- 
tions, seek his best welfare. The more honour is due to those 
Africans — such as Messrs Carr, Ajasa, and Sapara Williams 
in Nigeria, and many others in the Gold Coast and Sierra 
Leone — who with great moral courage have not feared to 
point the true way to their countrymen, and to expose and 
condemn false ideals. 

When the Europeanised African has qualified in the school 
of municipal training, and proved his ability to control his 
own community and improve its conditions, he can claim, 
and rightly be accorded, increased representation on the 
legislative and other councils, and selection by elective vote. 
The area over which the Legislative Coimcil exercises juris- 
diction can be gradually extended to include the whole of the 
tribe to which the native councillors belong, whose customary 
law and language they understand, and whom they can in 
fact represent. But it would be unjust to place under their 

' 'Lois Psychol ogiques de I'Evolution des Peuples,' Lebon. See 'Colonial 
Journal,' April 1914. 


control the interior tribes, who themselves have a right to 
a measure of seL£-rule. The laws which affect these tribes 
must be made by those responsible for their government. 

But though the claim of the educated African to represent 
or to rule the people of the interior may be denied, though 
the foibles and the foUies of some individuals may have 
brought discredit on his class, and chagrin to those who have 
a wider sympathy and culture, let us not forget the incalcul- 
able debt which Africa owes to her educated sons. Adminis- 
tration in West Africa would be impossible without the vast 
army of clerks and accountants who fill the departmental 
offices. Eailway extension would have been equally impos- 
sible without the telegraphists, guards, signallers, storekeepers, 
and the rest of the trained assistants. In every branch of 
effort he bears his share, and both the Government and the 
merchant would find it difficult to exist without his services. 
He has, as I have said, a special claim to our sympathy, 
since he is the creation of the system of education we have 
introduced, and his aspirations are the natural outcome of 
the ideals we have taught him. 

I wQl not discuss in this place the races of alien origin 
which have created so profound an influence in parts of 
British tropical Africa. Of the Fulani in particular I shall 
have something to say in the chapter on native adminis- 
tration. But a bttle-known class in West Africa — the Syrians 
— merit a word in passing. It astonishes the newcomer to 
see a white man as pedlar or hawker in the streets of Lagos 
or Accra, but he soon learns that the Syrian has come to 
Africa to stay. He lives at first on the same plane as the 
illiterate African, but he does not inter-marry with him. He 
brings his wife, and rears his children in the tropics, and by 
rigid thrift he often rises to positions of considerable affluence. 
As a trader he is the counterpart in the West of the Indian 
in East Africa. 

The recent riots in Sierra Leone, in which Syrians were 
attacked and their property destroyed, causes us misgivings 
as to the ability of the Europeanised African to deal justly 
by others when his material interests are involved — a mis- 
giving which was enhanced by the inclusion among the " re- 
forms " advocated by the " National Conference," of the ex- 
pulsion of the Syrians, and their exclusion from West Africa, 
on the grounds that they were a menace to the good govern- 


ment of the land — a proposal stigmatised as " preposterous " 
by an unofficial councillor in Mgeria, where there has been no 
such movement. In French West Africa, however, " measures 
have been taken by the Government to control the entry of 
Syrian merchants into the territory and the conduct of their 
bustaess with the natives," since they compete seriously with 
the French merchants.^ 

We are perhaps somewhat too apt to take it for granted 
that the introduction of civilisation must add to the happi- 
ness of the natives of Africa. The ascent of man to a higher 
plane of intelligence, self-control, and responsibility is a 
process not unattended by pain. We in England would not 
hesitate to prefer our present cidture to the barbarism of our 
woad-painted ancestors, but who shall say that we are either 
happier or physically fitter than they ? 

Under the conditions of primitive communal life the law 
of might prevails. The community is at the mercy of its 
most combative members, and the older men are generally 
unable to control the headstrong young warriors who bring 
war upon the tribe. It is the weak who suffer. Women, 
after the first flush of youth, lead a life of perpetual toil and 
slavery. The aged and the sick succumb to the law of the 
survival of the fittest. 

On the other hand, the enhancement of the value of life 
to the individual brings with it apprehension. From the 
ability to realise cause and effect spring many sources of 
fear unknown to primitive man. A more highly-developed 
brain and nervous system increases the sensibility to physical 
pain. Evolution and progress are a law of nature, and since 
the necessities of his existence compel civflised man to share 
the produce of the tropics, let us see to it that the process is 
accompanied by as much benefit and as little injury to the 
natives as may be. Let us admit that the " blessings of 
civilisation need not necessarily be limited to our civilisation, 
and of religion to our religion, without giving a thought to 
the value of other civilisations, older than and perhaps as 
admirable in practice as our own, and to other religions in 
which men have lived and died with comfort and hope for 
centuries before we ourselves emerged from the rudest bar- 
barism." ^ 

1 Foreign Office Handbook, No. 100 of 1920, p. 14. 

2 'Times,' 15th January 1907. 


The practical man, however, recognises the futility of 
theoretical disputations as to whether or not civilisation is a 
benefit. Though the Allies in their reply to the German 
demand for the restitution of her colonies, state that a Man- 
datory Power will derive no benefit from the exercise of his 
trusteeship, it would be absurd to deny that the initial motive 
for the penetration of Africa by Western civilisation was 
(with the exception of the religious missions) the satisfaction 
of its material necessities, and not pure altruism. In the 
circumstances, as Sir Charles Lucas says, the best protection 
for the native against abuse of power by the white man is 
to place the white man under the control of a civilised 

It is impossible to strike a balance of the immediate profit 
and loss to the native populations by the advent of civilisa- 
tion. On the one hand, the freedom of inter-communication, 
which followed the cessation of inter-tribal war, has had the 
result of disseminating diseases previously confined to par- 
ticular localities. It brought from the Congo the " Jigger," 
and the sleeping-sickness which decimated the population of 
Uganda. It has afforded to itinerant native traders access 
to primitive commimities, which they did not previously dare 
to invade, and they have carried venereal diseases with them 
both in the east and in the west.^ 

On the other hand, medical science has mitigated the 
scourge of smallpox by vaccination, and is waging successful 
war against leprosy, ankylostomiasis, sleeping-sickness, yellow 
fever, and other endemic diseases. Civilisation has decreased 
the sum of human misery inflicted by man upon man by tribal 
war, barbarous practices, and slave-raiding. By promoting 
trade and increasing wealth it has raised the standard of life 
and comfort. 

The white man was at first engaged in consolidating his 
own position, and making the tropics more healthy for Euro- 
peans engaged in their development. He has now accepted 
the principle that they must be made more healthy for the 

^ ' The British Empire,' Lucas, p. 207. 

^ A Nigerian resident remarks in one of his reports that Fulani herdsmen now 
penetrate unmolested into pagan areas, where before the era of British rule the 
cannibal tribes would have disposed of him " by the complete method of eating 
both him and his cattle. " 


native population.^ If, then, we have to admit that the first 
impact of civilisation on barbarism — ^no less than on an 
Oriental social organisation — is boimd at first to produce 
some untoward results, we may find encouragement and 
promise for the future in the undeniable alleviation of human 
suffering which it has also brought. 

^ Colonel Amery (Under-Secretary) in the debate on the Colonial Office vote, 
August 1919. 




Nature and functions of the administration — Constitution of a Crown 
colony — Two principles of administration : (a) Decentralisation — 
Decentralisation and amalgamation — Reasons for amalgamation — 
The case of Nigeria — Decentralisation in departments — Method of 
amalgamation in Nigeria — The principles involved — (6) Continuity : 
of personnel — Of records — Of Governor's instructions and policy — 
Continuity in office of Governor — Scheme of continuous respon- 
sibility — Anticipated advantages — The former system — Objections 
by permanent officials — Object and limitations — The "Man on the 
Spot " — The scheme abandoned — Suggestions for promoting con- 
tinuity and co-operation — Tenure of office of Governor. 

Tke British Empire, as General Smuts has well said, has 
only one mission — for liberty and self-development on no 
standardised lines, so that all may feel that their interests 
and religion are safe under the British flag. Such liberty 
and self-development can be best secured to the native popula- 
tion by leaving them free to manage their own affairs through 
their own rulers, proportionately to their degree of advance- 
ment, under the guidance of the British staff, and subject to 
the laws and policy of the administration. 

But apart from the administration of native affairs the 
local Government has to preserve law and order, to develop 
the trade and communications of the country, and to protect 
the interests of the merchants and others who are engaged 
in the development of its commercial and mineral resources. 
What, then, are the functions of the British staff, and how 
can the machinery of Government be most efficiently consti- 
tuted for the discharge of its duties in those coimtries in Africa 
which fall under British control ? 

The staff must necessarily be limited in numbers, for if 
the best class of men are to be attracted to a service which 


often involves separation from family and a strain on health, 
they must be offered adequate salaries and inducements ia 
the way of leave, housing, medical aid — or their equivalents 
in money — for their maintenance in health and comfort while 
serving abroad, and this forms a heavy charge on the 
revenues. Policy and economy alike demand restriction in 
numbers, but the best that England can supply. 

Obviously a consideration of the machinery of British 
administration in the tropics involves a review of its rela- 
tions to the home Government on the one hand, and of its 
local constitution and functions on the other. I wiU take 
the latter first. 

The Government is constituted on the analogy of the 
British Government in England. The Governor represents 
the King, but combines the functions of the Prime Minister 
as head of the Executive. The Councils bear a certain re- 
semblance to the Home Cabinet and Parliament, while the 
detailed work of the administration is carried out by a staff 
which may be roughly divided into the administrative, the 
judicial, and the departmental branches. 

The administrative branch is concerned with the super- 
vision of the native administration and the general direc- 
tion of policy ; with education, and the collection and control 
of direct taxes, which involve assessment and close relations 
with the native popidation ; with legislation and the ad- 
ministration of justice in courts other than the Supreme 
Court ; and with the direct government and welfare of the 
non-native section of the population. 

The departmental staff is charged with duties in connec- 
tion with transport, communications, and buildings (railways, 
marine, and public works) ; with the development of natural 
resources (mines, collieries, forestry, agriculture, and geology) ; 
with the auxiliary services of government (medical, secretarial, 
accounting, posts and telegraphs, surveys, &c.) ; and the 
collection of customs duties. 

The task of the administrative branch is to foster that 
sympathy, mutual understanding, and co-operation between 
the Government and the people, without which, as Sir C. 
Ilbert has observed, no Government is really stable and effi- 
cient. Its aim is to promote progress in civUisation and 
justice, and to create conditions under which individual 
enterprise may most advantageously develop the natui-al 


resources of the country. The task of the departments, on 
the other hand, is to maintain the Government machine in a 
state of efftciency, and to afford direct assistance in material 
development. Their motto is efficiency and economy. The 
two branches work together, and their duties overlap and 
are interdependent in every sphere. The efficient discharge 
of those duties ia combination constitutes the white man's 
title to control. 

There are in my estimation two vital principles which 
characterise the growth of a wise administration — ^they are 
Decentralisation and Contiauity. Though, as Lord Morley 
said of India, " perfectly efficient administration has an 
inevitable tendency to over-centralisation," it is a tendency 
to be combated. It has indeed been said that the whole 
art of administration consists in judicious and progressive 
delegation, and there is much truth ia the dictum, pro- 
vided that delegation of duties be accompanied by public 
responsibility. This is not applicable to the head of the 
Government alone or in particular, but to every single officer, 
from the Governor to the foreman of a gang of daily labourers. 
The man who is charged with the accompUshment of any 
task, and has the ability and discrimination to select the most 
capable of those who are subordinate to him, and to trust 
them with ever-increasing responsibiMty, up to the limi ts 
of their capacity, will be rewarded not only with confidence 
and loyalty, but he will get more work done, and better 
done, than the man who trie§ to keep too much in his own 
hands, and is slow to recognise merit, originaUty, and effi- 
ciency in others. His sphere of work becomes a training 
school, and he is able to recommend his best men for promo- 
tion to greater responsibility than he himself can confer. 
The Governor wha delegates to his Lieut.-Govemors, Eesidents, 
and heads of departments the widest powers compatible 
with his own direct responsibility to the Crown, will witness 
the most rapid progress. 

But delegation to an individual who is not equal to the 
responsibility obviously means disaster, and it is there- 
fore often advisable to entrust extended powers to the 
individual rather than to incorporate them as a part of 
the duties of his office. His successor, who must obviously 
have less experience, and may or may not be his equal 
in ability, will not then automatically enjoy the same 


latitude, until he has proved his capacity in the higher 

Increased latitude to the individual is not, however, in- 
consistent with increased delegation of duties to the office, 
more especially ia the administrative branch of the service, 
where posts must of necessity grow ia importance as the 
country as a whole develops. It is a frequent ground of 
criticism that the Colonial Office has been somewhat backward 
ia appreciatiag the value of this principle in these young and 
rapidly-growing dependencies. 

The Governor, by delegatiag work to others, would seem 
to lighten his own task, but in point of fact the more he 
delegates the more he will find to do ia co-ordinatiag the 
progress of the whole. Moreover, in order to have a right 
appreciation of the abihties, and of the personal character 
of each principal administrative officer and head of depart- 
ment, he must be in close personal touch with them, and 
make absolutely clear to them the essential features of his 
policy. He must be the directiug brain, and leave the execu- 
tion to others. The task he imdertakes is no light one, and 
if he should be caUed on to create an administration db ovo, 
or to lay down new Unes of pohcy in an old one, the work 
may become more than the time at his command suffices for, 
and the personal touch with his officers may temporarily 
suffer from the insistent demands of his office, until he is 
able gradually to delegate to those in whom he has confidence. 

In applying the principle of decentraUsation it is very 
essential to maintain a strong central co-ordinating authority, 
in order to avoid centrifugal tendencies, and the multiplica- 
tion of units without a sufficiently cohesive bond. I shall 
revert to this point when discussing the grouping of colonies. 

There are in British tropical Africa several blocks of terri- 
tory under separate administrations which are contiguous to 
each other, and the question arises whether it would be more 
advantageous that they should be placed under a single 
directing authority, with a single fiscal system, a common 
railway policy, and identical laws — ^more especially if one 
controls the coast area, and the other has no access to the 
seaboard. Such a process would, of course, be in no way 
opposed to decentralisation of the machinery of Government. 
Amalgamation (that is, unification) and federation are both 
natural processes of evolution, as we have seen in the United 



States, in Canada, Australia, and South Africa, and more 
recently in Nigeria. The French have gone even further, 
and placed colonies widely separated from each other under 
a central authority. I will deal here only with the question 
of amalgamation. The federation or grouping of colonies 
raises a separate issue, which I shall discuss later. 

Where one administration comprises the coast area, and 
collects the customs dues (which have hitherto formed the 
bulk of the revenue in most African dependencies), whQe 
another forms its hinterland, the latter must either estab- 
lish an inland fiscal frontier, or share the duties collected 
by its neighbour. The former expedient adds to the cost 
of all imports — already enhanced by the inherent expense of 
long and costly transport services (involving a slower turnover 
of commercial capital), — and is obviously opposed to the 
progress of trade and development, apart from the heavy cost 
of the administration of an effective customs and preventive 
service. The latter course is rendered most difficult by the 
impossibility of arriving at a division of the customs revenue 
which will not be resented by both. Imported goods which 
have paid duty on the coast pass into the hands of native 
middlemen, and their ultimate destination, by a thousand 
byways of trade, may be in the hinterland ; or the export- 
able produce for which they are bartered may originate in 
the interior territory. It is clearly impossible to discriminate 
with any accuracy in such circumstances between the value 
and volume of the trade properly belonging to each adminis- 
tration. The Liverpool Chamber of Commerce in July 1893 
made strong representations in this sense to Lord Eosebery 
regarding Nigeria. The French Governor- General, M. Eoume, 
referring to the fiscal reorganisation of the French West 
African colom'es, observed that " it was not right to continue 
to allow the coast colonies alone to benefit by trade, a large 
proportion of which was destined for the interior," and 
Senegal had to make a subsidy to its hinterland. 

A hinterland Government has not only to bear heavy 
transport charges from and to the coast on its imports and 
exports, but upon it falls the burden of frontier defence. In 
order to balance its budget it will probably have to depend on 
a grant from Parliament, paid by the British taxpayer, while 
the coast Government may have a surplus revenue. A grant- 
in-aid involves control by the Imperial Treasury — a depart- 


ment whicli knows nothing of local needs, and is solely con- 
cerned in reducing the charges — and the dual control of two 
departments of State is inimical to aU progress. 

With an increase of material prosperity, new and dis- 
turbing factors arise. An interior administration depends 
largely for its development on railways and improved water- 
ways, for which capital is required — but loans are not per- 
missible while as yet a country depends on an Imperial grant. 
Even if sufficient revenue for its needs were raised by taxa- 
tion, payment of taxes must be largely made in kind, which 
can only be realised by conveying it to the coast. Some 
smaU part may be sold to merchants for cash, but they 
will not establish themselves, unless means of transport are 

The organisation and control of railways, waterways, and 
telegraph lines traversing both territories must of necessity 
be in the hands of a central administration. It would obvi- 
ously be iaadvisable for one administration to treat the 
other as foreign territory, and to conclude railway and postal 
conventions with it in order to exercise separate control over 
its own section. Increased cost of administration, obstacles 
to trade, unnecessary accounting, and the certainty of fric- 
tion must result. A comprehensive and far-sighted railway 
policy, to which the efforts of both would be consistently 
devoted, becomes impossible.^ 

When legislation pursues two different channels, differences 
in policy in regard to native administration, the courts of 
law, and other vital matters are bound to arise, and it is 
obviously inadvisable that contiguous communities should 
be under different systems of taxation, and different penal 
codes. The evil is accentuated by the fact that the frontiers 
between the two — often fixed at a time when their geography 
and ethnology were ahnost unknown, by lines of latitude 
and longitude instead of by distinctive natural features — 
must inevitably intersect tribal boundaries. It goes without 

' The railway in East Africa does not actually traverse Uganda, and the 
di£Sculty is therefore not so acute, but it depends largely for its earnings on the 
carriage of merchandise to and from Uganda. Hitherto Kenya has appropriated 
its revenue. A railway Board has now been formed on which both countries 
are represented. The control of the Board (unless amalgamation of the two 
Governments is carried out) must presumably be exercised from Downing Street, 
— a retrograde step opposed to decentralisation, and tending towards that 
absentee control from London, which the Indian Railway Committee has so 
unanimously condemned.— See Cmd. 1512/1921. 


saying that a single co-ordinated effort will achieve more for 
the permanent good of a country than the separate efforts 
of two administrators, not focussed on a common objective. 

Such conditions were applicable to Mgeria, and are still 
probably applicable to Kenya and Uganda. They were fully 
described by me iq a Memo, dated May 1905 ; but the amal- 
gamation of Mgeria, though supported by the Governors of 
the coastal administrations, was not decided upon till 1912, 
when Mr Harcourt charged me with the task. To administer 
such enormous territories as East Africa or Mgeria as a 
single unit, decentralisation is more than ever necessary, but 
how it can best be effected is not an easy problem. 

In the administrative branch the chain of responsibiUty 
from the most junior grade to the head of the Government 
— the District Officer, the Eesident of a Province, the Lieut.- 
Govemor — ^is easily forged, but the departments offer a more 
difficult problem. If on the one hand each department is 
under a single head, responsible to the Governor, the ten- 
dency is towards a highly-centralised Government, in which 
the Lieut.-Govemors are deprived of initiative and financial 
control, and there is a danger lest their instructions to the 
local representative of the department may conflict with 
those of the departmental head. The Lieut. -Governor for 
aU jyractical purposes ceases to frame his own budget. On 
the other hand, the duplication of departmental heads in each 
area under a Lieut. -Governor involves extra cost, and some 
loss of technical efficiency and co-ordination. There are, 
moreover, a number of departments whose functions are 
indivisible, and they must remain under the direct control 
of the central authority — such as the judicial, railway, mili- 
tary, &c. 

The scheme of amalgamation adopted in Nigeria was de- 
signed to involve as little dislocation of existing conditions 
as possible, while providing for the introduction later of such 
further changes as were either foreseen, but not immediately 
necessary, or might be suggested by future experience. They 
would then be rather in the nature of natural evolution than 
of reversal. There are twenty-one provinces in Mgeria — 
exclusive of the Mandate territory in the Cameruns and of 
the colony proper — each with an average area of 16,000 square 
miles, and a population of 800,000. To invest each Eesident 
of a province with large powers of autonomy, or at the least 


to create half a dozen Lieut.-Govemorships, would not be a 
measure of decentralisation but the reverse, for the work 
arising from each of the separate units — as well as from all 
the departments — ^would be centralised in the hands of the 
Governor. The truest principle of decentralisation was to 
make the area placed under a Lieut.-Govemor so large and 
important that the oflBicer appointed to its charge could reheve 
the Governor of all the routine functions of administration, 
leaving him to direct the general poUcy, initiate legislation, 
and control those departments which must necessarily be 

The old northern and southern divisions of Nigeria were 
retained intact (the colony being a separate entity), and 
placed under Lieut.-Govemors, pending the unification of the 
laws, the judicial system, and the general policy. It was 
thought that when the fundamental divergencies in these 
should have been removed, it would be possible (should the 
experience gained point in that direction) to create a third 
Lieut. -Governorship, or to make other changes. The task of 
amalgamating and re-enacting the statute-books of the two 
administrations was one which would necessarily take some 

The difficulty regarding the decentraUsation of the depart- 
ments to which I have alluded was dealt with in the following 
way. A central secretariat (which woidd naturally later 
become the principal secretariat of Mgeria) was set up, while 
Lieut. -Governors retained their own secretariats. The de- 
partments which I have described as necessarily indivisible 
remained under the Governor and the Central Secretary. 
The other large departments, such as the Medical and Public 
Works, were retained in each imit as fuUy organised entities, 
and their receipts and expenditure were included in the Lieut.- 
Governor's budget, but they were placed under the general 
supervision of an officer senior to both the departmental 
heads, who, without interfering with the Lieut.-Governor's 
control, preserved uniformity and technical efficiency, and 
acted as adviser to Government.^ Minor departments, such 
as Police, Education, &c., whose spheres of action do not 

' In proportion as the head of a department ceases to exercise executive 
functions, and acts as adviser to Government, he approaches to the position of 
a "Minister" in a self-governing colony, and the germ of a future development 
is introduced. 


overlap, remained separate in each unit. Departmental pro- 
motion was in all cases to be determined by a common roster. 

In fiscal matters the whole of Nigeria became a single 
entity. All revenue was paid into the common Treasury (a 
" central " department), and each Lieut. -Governor and the 
heads of the central departments framed and submitted his 
own estimates to the Governor, who personally examined 
them with him, and assigned such funds for new works or 
for departmental expansion as the requirements of the coun- 
try as a whole permitted. I shall describe more fully the 
functions and powers of the Lieut.-Governor and other ofl&cers 
in the next chapter. It suffices to note here that the methods 
by which it was sought to secure effective decentralisation 
were {a) by the delegation of executive, financial, and adminis- 
trative powers to Lieut.-Governors who would exercise re- 
sponsibility and initiative, and not be merely Deputy-Governors 
with no executive powers of their own ; ^ (6) the administra- 
tion of native affairs, being regarded not merely as a depart- 
ment, but as the most important duty of the administration, 
the Resident of a Province was as far as possible reUeved of 
all other administrative duties, in order that he might devote 
his undivided time and thought to this work ; (c) the authority 
of its head over a department was unfettered, and subject 
only to the control of the Governor or Lieut.-Governor, as 
the case might be. This scheme of amalgamation was adopted 
in the particuJar circumstances then existing in Nigeria ; and 
its general principles would of course require adaptation if 
applied elsewhere, and wiU require modification to the chang- 
ing conditions of the development of Nigeria itself.^ 

To what extent the principles of decentrahsation may 
be applied as between the Colonial Ofl&ce and the local Govern- 
ment is a question I shall discuss in chapters vui. and ix. 

The second of the two principles which I have described 
as vital in African administration is Continuity, and this, 
like Decentrahsation, is applicable to every department and 
to every officer, however junior, but above all to those officers 
who represent the Government in its relations with the native 
population. The annually recurrent absence on leave, which 

^ Decentralisation is the key-note of the Sudan administration, where 
Qovemors of provinces have the widest powers. 

" A full report was submitted to the Secretary of State, and published as 
Cd. 468 of 1920. 


withdraws each officer in West Africa from his post for about 
a third of his time, the occasional invalidings and deaths, 
and the constant changes rendered unavoidable of late years 
by a depleted and iaadequate staif, have made it extremely 
difficult to preserve in that part of Africa any continuity 
whatever. The African is slow to give his confidence. He is 
suspicious and reticent with a newcomer, eager to resuscitate 
old land disputes — ^perhaps of half a century's standing — ia 
the hope that the new officer ia his ignorance may reverse 
the decision of his predecessor. The time of an officer is 
wasted ia picMng up the tangled threads and informiag 
himself of the conditions of his new post. By the time he 
has acquired the necessary knowledge, and has learnt the 
character of the people he has to deal with, and won their 
confidence, his leave becomes due, and if on his return he is 
posted elsewhere, not only is progress arrested but retro- 
gression may result. 

It is also essential that each officer should be at paias 
to keep full and accurate records of aU important matters, 
especially of any conversation with native chiefs, ia which 
any pledge or promise, imphed or expUcit, has been made. 
It is not enough that official correspondence should be filed 
— a summary of each subject should be made and decisions 
recorded and brought up to date, so that a newcomer may 
be able rapidly to put himself au courant. The higher the 
post occupied by an officer, the more important does the 
principle become. 

It is especially important that the decisions of the Governor 
should be fuUy recorded in writing, and not merely by an 
initial of acquiescence or a verbal order. This involves heavy 
office work, but it is work which cannot be neglected if mis- 
understandings are to be avoided and contiauity preserved. 
The very detailed instructions regarding the duties of each 
newly-created department which were issued when the admia- 
istration of ^Northern Mgeria was first inaugurated, served a 
very useful purpose in maintaining continuity of policy, tUl 
superseded on amalgamation by briefer general orders. 

In the sphere of administration there are obviously many 
subjects — education, taxation, slavery and labour, native 
courts, land tenure, &c. — in which uniformity and continuity 
of policy is impossible in so large a country, unless explicit 
instructions are issued for guidance. By a perusal of the 


periodical reports of Eesidents, the Governor could inform 
himself of the difficulties which presented themselves in the 
varying circumstances of each province, and think out the 
best way in which they could be met, and could note where 
misunderstandings or mistakes had been made. By these 
means a series of Memoranda were compiled, and constantly 
revised as new problems came to light, and as progress ren- 
dered the earlier instructions obsolete. They formed the 
reference book and authority of the Eesident and his staff. 

In a country so vast, which included communities in all 
stages of development, and differing from each other pro- 
foundly in their customs and traditions, it was the declared 
policy of Government that each should develop on its own 
lines ; but this in no way lessens the need for uniformity in 
the broad principles of policy, or in their application where 
the conditions are similar. It was the aim of these Memo- 
randa to preserve this continuity and uniformity of priaciple 
and policy. ^Newcomers, by studying them, could make 
themselves fuUy acquainted with the nature of the task 
before them, the problems to be dealt with, and the 
attitude of Government towards each of those problems. 
Senior officers were spared the labour and loss of time involved 
in frequent iteration, when noting any misunderstanding or 
ignorance in the reports of. their subordinates, by simply 
inviting attention to the pertinent paragraph of the Memo- 
randum. Subversive policies cannot gradually creep in, and 
any change must be deliberately inaugurated by the formal 
cancellation of the particular instructions in the Memoranda. 
Though the preparation of the Memoranda involves consider- 
able labour, they result in an eventual saving in the time 
both of the Governor and of senior officers. They are the 
embodiment of the experience of the most capable officers, 
co-ordinated by the head of the Government, who has access 
to the reports and is familiar with circumstances of aU. When 
any point of particular difficulty presents itself where opinions 
are in conflict, and the information insufficient to form a 
clear judgment on the principles involved, the Governor may 
perhaps cause a precis to be circulated before a final decision 
is reached. The little volume of ' Political Memoranda ' has 
been of much use in Nigeria. It deals solely with the actual 
problems of practical administration. 

The Statute Book, the Eegulations and Orders made under 


the laws, the General Orders, and the Governor's Memoranda 
on administrative subjects, contain between them in a readUy 
accessible and compact form the whole structural policy of 
the Administration, and constitute the " Laws and Usages " 
of the country. Had such a quartette existed, revised de- 
cennially since the earliest origin of our Indian Empire and 
of our Crown colomes, they would have formed valuable 
material for the history of the Empire. In Africa we are 
laying foimdations. The superstructure may vary iu its 
details, some of which may perhaps be ill-designed, but the 
stability of the edifice is unaffected. Ton may puU down and 
re-erect cupolas, but you cannot alter the design of the founda- 
tions without first destroying all that has been erected upon 

Important as it is that the British Staff, so long as they 
are efficient, should remain in the same posts without more 
iutemiption than is necessary for the preservation of health, 
and the prevention of ennui or " staleness," it is of stiU greater 
importance that contiauity should be maintained in the case 
of an efficient Governor, who directs the poUcy of the whole 
country.! For in a rapidly-progressing country poUcy and 
legislation are developed from day to day. Regulations and 
Orders in Council for the carrying out of laws are matters of 
daily consideration ; and in spite of every effort to decentra- 
lise and to delegate powers, the Governor has to deal daily 
with large numbers of Minute papers, each calling for a 
considered judgment on some problem of sufficient importance 
for reference to him. 

It is above all important that he should be present towards 
the close of the year, when the estimates are framed ia which 
the programme of material progress — ^railways, roads, buildings 
— and increases of staff, &c., are settled. These months, and 
the first quarter of the new year, are far more important 
from an administrative and business point of view than the 
remaining months, which form the rainy season in the tropics 
north of the Equator. The accounts are completed ; annual 

' The 'Times,' diecuosing the "Administrative problem in Equatorial Africa," 
in a well-informed article some years ago (1st Oct. 1901), pointed out that the 
entire absence of continuity in the administration of Uganda had produced 
results which were alike "deplorable and discreditable." The bewUdering 
rapidity of the changes in Commissioners, each of whom experimented with 
the unfortunate country by introducing new and subversive policies, made it 
impossible to fix any responsibility. 


reports from all departoents begin to come in, and must be 
reviewed ; and the yearly report to the Secretary of State, 
for which they form material, must be compiled. Com- 
munications are no longer impeded by washouts, or roads 
too soft from rain to carry vehicles, and the season permits of 
travel and iaspection. In order always to be present at this 
season, a Governor ia West Africa must take his leave either 
after eight or after about seventeen months in the country, 
and so make his absence coincide with the raiay season. 
By which arrangement wiU continuity be best preserved ? 

The seventeen months' tour of service involves a heavy 
strain. The Governor's absence on completing it would 
extend over a period of about 6^ months, iacluding voyages, 
thus seriously encroaching on the working season. During 
so long a period many matters of first-class importance must 
be decided without awaiting his return, new legislation must 
be put through, and even questions of policy may be affected. 
By so long an absence continuity is seriously sacrificed. 
Another hand must guide the hehn, or there must be a period 
of stagnation and delay. Important questions await his 
return, and leave him but little time to read up aU that has 
transpired during his long absence, so that he finds himself 
wasting precious time in the hopeless endeavour to overtake 
arrears at a moment of exceptional pressure, or dealing with 
questions with which he is perforce imperfectly acquainted. 

The eight months' period of residential service offers less 
disadvantage in these respects, and is already applicable to 
the judges in Mgeria. But even an absence of four months 
in each year (including voyages) is a distressing break in con- 
tinuity, if the Governor during this period is wholly detached 
from his work. It was, however, found necessary by Lord 
Cromer — though the climate of Cairo or Alexandria is better 
than that of West Africa, — and I beUeve he attributed much 
of his success to his annual holiday. The Governor-General 
of the Sudan also takes an annual leave, bringing home with 
him during the rainy season many of his senior officers, and 
transacting much business for his Government during his 
time in England. During the absence of Lord Cromer, or 
Sir R. Wingate, the locum tenens could not initiate any new 
policy or legislation. This was the Foreign Office solution of 
the problem. The Niger Chartered Company had found it no 
less necessary for their highest officers (the Agent-General 


and Chief Justice) to come home yearly, though iu their case 
the admioistration was directed from London. 

After six years' experience in West Africa, during which 
an exceptionally robust constitution enabled me to adopt 
the sixteen to eighteen months' period of foreign service, 
and so to avoid absence at the essential period of the year, 
I reaUsed very fuUy its disadvantages, and submitted to 
Mr Lyttelton, then Secretary of State for the Colonies, a 
proposal by which I hoped that this lack of continuity might 
be overcome, and at the same time a closer touch assured 
between the Governor and the Secretary of State and com- 
mercial interests in England. The proposal was seen by 
Mr Chamberlain, who had recently left the Colonial OfBce, 
and he was inclined to approve it. The principle was also 
approved by Lord Cromer and other statesmen.^ Mr Lyttelton 
declared his intention of giving it a trial in Mgeria. 

In brief, I suggested that " the Governor-General (of an 
amalgamated Mgeria) should spend six months of each year 
in Airica, and six in England, being on duty and not on leave 
while at home . . . whether in England or in Africa he would 
remain the sole working head of the administration." The 
scheme was not cordially accepted by the permanent officials, 
and did not at that time take effect ; but when in 1912 I was 
invited by Mr (now Lord) Harcourt to undertake the amalga- 
mation of the two Nigerias, he agreed to adopt it on the 
basis of seven months' residence abroad and five months' 
absence, including voyages — ^which I think is better than six 
and six. With rapid sea passages it might even be eight and 
four months. 

The scheme was in operation for some years, and I doubt 
whether the task of amalgamation, with the added difficulties 
of the war, cotdd have been satisfactorily carried through 
without it. Arrangements had been made so that the r61e of 
the permanent officials at the Colonial Office should in no 
way be interfered with by the presence of the Governor, while 
his residence in England for four months during the rains 
each year involved an absence from Mgeria no longer, though 
more frequent, than the normal period of leave. He was in 

^ Sir A. Hemming, who had served for thirty years in the Colonial OfiBce, 
latterly as head of the West African Department, and subsequently as Governor 
of two Crown colonies, warmly supported it in a letter to the ' Times ' (26th 
December 1905). 


point of fact more closely in touch with his deputy than it 
he had been travelling ia a distant part of Nigeria. His 
deputy in Africa was vested with full powers to deal with 
any emergency which might arise, and to carry on routine 

It was hoped that the arrangement would have beneficial 
results in relieving the Governor for a period ia each year, 
when he could best be spared, of the burden of routine work, 
and enable him to devote time to the study of larger problems,^ 
and to maintaiu a close touch with commercial interests in 
England. For the latter reason it was welcomed by the mer- 
chants." It was anticipated also that the Governor's presence 
in England — ^not on leave but on duty — might, if duly utUised, 
prove of value to the home authorities, and minimise despatch- 

Under the normal Colonial Office system, the Governor 
when on leave was rarely consulted, except on a matter of 
very exceptional importance, and was at liberty to leave 
England if he desired. No doubt it was the kiudly iutention 
that he should have complete rest. The Acting- Governor was 
vested with full powers, and for the time being entirely super- 
seded the Governor, and was alone recognised by the Colonial 
Office. Since the Governor did not see the despatches sent 
to or received from his Government, he lost all touch, and 
on his return he had a heavy task to overtake arrears and 
possess himself of what had transpired in his absence. The 
Foreign Office, as Lord Lansdowne told the House of Lords, 
Uke the French Government, has a different tradition. 

Experience did not lessen the hostility of the permanent 
officials to the scheme.^ It was, they considered, contrary 

^ Compare Burke, addressing a member of the French National Assembly in 
1791 : "They who always labour can have no true judgment. You never give 
yourselves time to cool. You can never survey from its proper point of sight the 
work you have finished before you decree its final execution. You can never 
plan the future by the past. . . . These are among the effects of unremitted 
labour, when men exhaust their attention, burn out their candles, and are left in 
the dark." 

" One of them had in fact advocated a very similar scheme — viz., that a 
Governor " should return home for six months after nine in Africa, and be 
responsible for his locum, tenens and all his acts during the interval." 

' An obviously well-informed article appeared in the ' Glasgow Herald ' of 
13th July 1912, before the scheme was brought into effect, stating that Mr 
Harcourt's decision "was strongly resented by the permanent ofBcials ... no 
other Crown Colony [they said] is carried on in this way, which means the 
practical supersession of the permanent Under-Secretaries." 


to all precedent, and even to constitutional usage. This 
coidd not indeed be gainsaid, but the experiment could be, 
and was, legalised Mke other experiments in Empire Ad- 
ministration, by Letters Patent and Eoyal instructions. The 
apprehensions of the permanent ofBcials were not unnatural, 
for the presence of the Governor at the Colonial Office seemed 
to threaten the anon5rmity of the Secretary of State, from 
which they derived the powers so absolutely essential to the 
working of the Colonial Office system. Eegarding this system 
I shall have some remarks to make in chapter viii. ; but in 
so far as this scheme is concerned, no interference with the 
functions of the permanent officials was ever contemplated, 
or alleged while it was in operation. The Governor, though 
working in close relation with the department, was not part 
of it, and had no claim to see the Office Minutes. 

The primary object of the scheme, as I have explained, 
was to promote a true continuity of responsibility and con- 
trol, in lieu of a continuity which was not real. That there 
is a tendency on the part of an Acting-Governor, vested with 
the fullest powers, to inaugurate policies of his own, had 
been the experience of more than one West African colony. 
It may not go so far as the reversal of legislation — ^which 
could be vetoed by the Secretary of State — and it may even 
be due to misunderstanding rather than to deliberate inten- 
tion, but the result is equally deplorable. 

The practicability of the principle of continuous respon- 
sibility of the Governor when absent from his post, and of 
his annual return to England, must, of course, depend largely 
on the distance of the colony and the time taken in sea 
voyages. It is adapted only to a group of colonies under a 
Governor-General — and the two Mgerias, in size, population, 
and wealth, might be said to represent such a group — and 
to colonies within a comparatively short sea voyage of Eng- 
land. A scheme which has been found feasible for West 
Africa, Egypt, and the Sudan would not be suitable for the 
Straits Settlements, Ceylon, or Mauritius, unless aviation 
introduces new possibilities in the future. The French system 
in West Africa — ^which I shall presently describe — ^is not 

British pubUc opinion is in favour of trusting the " Man 
on the Spot," who represents the King, and is held respon- 
sible by the nation. If trouble occurs through the action of 


his deputy, it is the Governor's policy which is blamed. He 
should therefore have the same control over his deputy -when 
he is in London as he would have were he absent in some dis- 
tant part of the protectorate, where for all practical admiaistra- 
tive purposes he would be less in touch than when in London. 
But the scheme, as Mr Churchill wittUy said, involves an 
enlarged definition of the " Spot," due to the rapid means of 
transport and communications which steam and telegraphy 
have introduced, in order to give effect to the essential prin- 
ciple — control by the man who is held responsible. 

No project can, however, be successfully carried out to 
which one party is consistently opposed, and the scheme 
has been abandoned, — nor shorild I have devoted so much 
space to it were it not that its revival — possibly ia some 
modified form — ^would certainly in my view be desirable, if 
the proposal to " group " colonies — which I shall deal with 
in chapter ix. — were adopted. 

How, then, in the meantime can contiauity of responsi- 
bility and co-operation best be preserved ? It has been said 
that contiauity is maintained by the permanency of the 
officials at the Colonial Office, whose r61e it is to oppose sub- 
versive policy by a new Governor based on insufficient ex- 
perience, or the assumption of too wide powers by an Acting- 
Governor. This is, of course, an essential function of the 
Colonial Office under the present system — a function which, 
as we have seen, the Foreign Office had been accused of fail- 
ing to perform in Uganda. The duty of acting as a drag on 
the wheels may indeed preserve continuity, but it is not 
necessarily a continuity of progress, and may even produce 
an attitude of mind tolerant of delays, and hostile to new 
lines of thought. 

If it were made manifest to a Governor on leave that his 
presence and assistance is welcomed at the Colonial Office ; 
if he saw all correspondence with the Acting-Governor, and 
were informed of all proposed changes ; if the atmosphere 
of secrecy were exchanged for one of absolute frankness, not 
only by the seniors but by the juniors of the Office, and he 
were consulted in matters regarding his sphere of work, and 
invited to Conferences and Committees ; if his period of 
leave were invariably to coincide with the rainy season — 
either annually with an absence of three to four months 
only, or (siace conditions in West Africa now admit of longer 


residence) every alternate year, with a total absence not 
exceeding six months (say, from mid-March to mid-Septem- 
ber) ; and finally, if the powers of the Acting-Governor were 
strictly curtailed, and the continuous responsibility of the 
Governor were officially recognised — much might be done not 
only to promote continuity, but also to forward the best 
interests of the country. 

In the latter direction clear rules should be laid down 
and published. The institution of legislation, the approval 
of important leases, and the appropriation of any con- 
siderable sums unprovided in the estimates, should be re- 
served to the Governor. His deputy should have no power 
to cancel or alter existiag Eegulations, General Orders, or 
Governor's instructions, or to issue any iastructions contrary 
to these in letter or spirit, or incompatible with the general 
policy in regard to the native administration. He should 
not alter the boundaries of provinces, depose or appoint 
chiefs of the highest rank, alter the permanent distribution 
of the military forces, or give pledges to merchants or mis- 
sionaries which involve important principles, without prior 
reference to the Governor. 

The prosperity of a colony, and the welfare of its popula- 
tion, must obviously depend very largely on the character 
and energy of its Governor. It is therefore of the first im- 
portance that the best men should be selected for these posts, 
and that during their tenure of ofl&ce the Secretary of State 
shoiild have frequent opportunities of judging of their ability 
and sustained energy and enthusiasm. 

The work and character of a Governor cannot be gauged 
by his popularity, or by the hearsay evidence of juniors, or 
of those whose pecuniary interests may have been affected 
by measures needed for the good of the country, for they are 
necessarily inadequately informed. Unpopularity arising 
from questions of pubhc policy may indeed be a proof of 
strength of character and of a disinterested sense of duty. 

It is manifest that when the right man is in the right place, 
it is to the benefit of the country that his tenure of office 
should be prolonged ; but in order to avoid the retention of 
a man who has not come up to the expectations formed of 
him, or who, though thoroughly capable, is unsuited to the 
particular post, the period of Governorship should be limited 
as now to six years (though earUer transfers could, of course. 


be made), and the extension of this term should carry with 
it an increase of emoluments, so that the Governor may not 
suffer in pocket or status, and the extension may be regarded 
as a recognition of merit. There is a widespread feeUng in 
the senior ranks of the service — the bitterness of which is 
probably not appreciated in Downing Street — ^that present 
methods provide no safeguard against inefficiency, and no 
guarantee for the selection of the best men. 

A Governor is often a married man with a family. In the 
conditions hitherto prevailing ia Africa, except in the eastern 
Highlands, he must be separated from the latter, even if 
his wife (probably no longer young) is able to accompany 
him. The best men, therefore, are apt to look for promotion 
to a colony which does not necessitate such separations. 
It is only within the last dozen years that Governors have 
remained for their full period of office in West Africa. Formerly 
they rarely remained for more than three years. Continuity 
again suffers, for Governors appointed from the eastern colonies 
(as so many have been in West Africa) have much to learn 
and imlearn before they become familiar with African con- 
ditions and African character — so essentially different from 
those of the East. 

In the self-governing colonies limitation of tenure of office 
has special advantages. Continuity is maintained, not by the 
Governor-General, but by his ministers. Past controversies are 
buried with the advent of a new Governor, and the progress of 
democratic institutions in the Mother Country, and her rela- 
tions towards the colony, are more accurately represented. 
The new Governor is, in fact, more up-to-date as the repre- 
sentative of the feelings and changes in Great Britain. In 
the tropical dependencies the case is otherwise. Personality 
counts for so much with native races that the departure of a 
man who has gained their confidence may set the clock back 
and delay progress — and the same may be said of material 
development. Given the right man, the longer he stays the 
better, provided he retaias his energy and enthusiasm — as 
results have proved in Egypt and elsewhere. On the other 
hand, as decentraUsation proceeds, the force of these argu- 
ments decreases. Continuity of method and policy is better 
assured, and the " new blood " which the Colonial Office 
constantly endeavours to infuse into the colonies has its 
advantages in bringing new ideas and new experience, and in 


preventing an administration from becoming limited in its 
channels of progress under the continued control of the same 

Continuity may therefore suffer in three ways : first, by 
the short tenure of his post by a Governor ; secondly, by his 
long absence on leave ; and thirdly, by the indefinite powers 
given to his temporary deputy. 

It may be said that as Faith, Hope, and Charity are to the 
Christian creed, so are Decentralisation, Co-operation, and 
Continuity to African Administration — and the greatest of 
these is Continuity. 





The Legislative Council — Unofficial representation : (a) European un- 
official members ; (6) native unofficials ; (c) representation of the 
masses — Method of enacting laws — The official vote — The Executive 
Council — Its duties, procedure, and composition^Value of Executive 
Council — Committees — The Nigerian Council — The Governor — The 
Governor's deputy — The Lieut. -Governor — The Resident — The Ma- 
layan and Nigerian systems — Conditions in Malaya — Contrast between 
the two — The District OflSoer — His training — Necessity for acquiring 
the language — Advantages of a lingud francd — Duties of the District 
Officer — Continuity at his post. 

Ttirning from general principles to the machinery of ad- 
ministration, the Governor and the Councils over which he 
presides first claim consideration. The powers and duties of 
the Governor and the constitution and functions of the 
Councils are laid down in the " Letters Patent " which con- 
stitute each colony, or the Eoyal " Orders in Council " which 
take their place in the case of a protectorate. These instru- 
ments are supplemented by " Boyal Instructions," in which 
they are further elaborated. 

The constitution of the Legislative Council varies greatly 
in different colonies and protectorates.^ In some of the 
Crown colonies there is an unofficial majority, either nomi- 
nated or partly elected by constituencies ; but in the African 
dependencies the unofficial members are in a minority, and 
are nominated by the Crown except in the case of Kenya, 
which has eleven elected members. Colonial legislatures can 
only exercise jurisdiction in their own territories, unless special 
power is given to them to legislate for adjacent regions.* In 

1 See Taring's 'Law relating to the Colonies,' p. 61. Also Colonial Regula- 
tions, chap. i. — ' Colonial Office List ' (1921), p. 793. 

2 Taring, pp. 61 and 132. 


Southern Nigeria, prior to amalgamation, the Legislative 
Council of the colony legislated for the protectorate,^ but its 
functions are now Umited to the colony proper, and the 
Governor legislates for the protectorate. Every protectorate 
Bill is placed before the Executive CouncU before the Gover- 
nor's assent is given, a draft having been published in the 
official gazette for some time prior to enactment, unless the 
BUI is urgent, or there is other good reason for not doing so. 
This affords opportunity for the expression of public opinion 
in regard to it, a course which is the more necessary in West 
Africa, since the principals of most of the firms there retain 
the direction of their commercial affairs largely in their own 
hands in England, and their local representatives have, ac- 
cording to their statements, insufficient authority to voice 
their opinions.^ 

Unofficial membership of the Legislative Council is shared 
between the European and native communities. The " Mon- 
tagu-Chehnsford Eeport " and the writings of Mr Lionel 
Curtis and Sir Valentine Chirol regarding the great experi- 
ment which is now being tried in India, have very clearly 
demonstrated the danger of enlarging the powers of criticism 
by increased unofficial representation — such as was accorded 
by the " Morley-Minto Eeforms " — without the responsibility 
which men feel when they may be called upon to translate 
their theories into practice.^ A community, therefore, which 
is ripe for representative Government should be able to pro- 
vide individuals capable of holding high executive ofiBce.* I 
shall revert to this question in the chapter on native rule. 

The petition of the " National Conference " from West 
Africa complained that nominated counciQors were not re- 
presentative of the people (though its leading signatories 
owed their position to nomination). It elicited from the 

^ These powers apparently grew out of the extra-colonial jurisdiction acquired 
by Governor Maclean in the Gold Coast hinterland. They were formally 
conferred on the Legislative Councils by a series of Orders in Council. 

« See Cd. 6427 of 1912, question 99. 

' 'Dyarchy,' by L. Curtis. Letters to the 'Times' by Sir V, Chirol, 
7th June 1918, &o. 

* "Representative government" is the term used for an unofficial majority 
in the Legislature, and is of course very different from " responsible government, " 
viz., complete home rule. The danger of the premature grant of too advanced a 
form of government was shown in the case of Jamaica, where, after twenty years 
of friction and the refusal of the unofficial majority to vote supplies, the Con- 
stitution was remodelled. Mr Alleyne Ireland considers "the divided counsels 
of an elected Legislature " to be " the insidious evil of the Tropics." 


Secretary of State (Lord Milner) his opinion that these de- 
pendencies are not yet fitted for the principle of election or 
of an unofficial majority. 

It may be accepted as a pririciple of British colonial policy 
that the interests of a large native population shaU not be 
subjected to the wiU of a minority, whether of Europeans or 
of educated natives.^ Thus in India the Governor-General 
in Council legislated without reference to the Legislature for 
scheduled (e.g., backward or primitive) districts and for 
native states.^ In Natal, prior to the Union, the Governor 
had a commission as " Paramount Chief " for the control of 
extra-colonial natives, and the Legislative Council could not 
interfere with this jurisdiction, while at the Cape the High 
Commissioner governed the protectorates, and legislated for 
them, in a separate capacity from that in which he presided 
as " Governor " in the Cape Legislature. They remain under 
his control, and are not subject to the Union Government. 

The weight which the British unofficials should carry is ia 
West Africa impaired by the lack of authority to which I 
have referred. Miss Kingsley protested against the inade- 
quacy of the representation accorded to British merchants, 
but I do not recall any complaint by themselves. Though 
the local representatives are assured of a sympathetic hearing 
and a full investigation of any suggestions they may have to 
offer, the methods of Crown colony Government as appUed 
in the African dependencies enable the principals of firms in 
England to carry their proposals direct to the Colonial Office, 
and thus to be somewhat indifferent to local representation. 

There are already indications that the rapid progress of 
commerce in West Africa will bring with it a necessity for 
responsible heads of firms, who can speak with authority, to 
reside on the spot, and a fuller realisation of the duty and 
privilege of bearing their share in the councils of the countries 
in which their profits are made, so that as in the Eastern 
colonies local questions affecting trade will increasingly be 
decided locally without the delay and circumlocution involved 
by Colonial Office intervention. Increased representation to 
the merchants is only possible (unless there be an imofficial 

^ Sir C. Dilke expressed the view that autocracy ia preferable to a "veiled 
oligarchy" such as would exist if a small body of unofficial Europeans were 
invested with the power of taxing the natives. 

^ Ilbert, 'Government of India,' pp. 108, 121, and 214-15. 


majority or a large increase in the size of the councils) at the 
expense of the banking and shipping interests, or of the 
native members. In the Kenya Colony, where several thou- 
sand British have settled, the case is of course quite different. 

The Europeanised natives form a very important section 
of the community, and in proportion to their numbers have 
a substantial representation in the Legislature. They are 
necessarily drawn from the English-speaking section, and are 
not generally (as I have explained) representative of any but 
their own class. Owing, moreover, to the great distances 
and lack of means of rapid commimication, the choice of 
native councillors is practically limited to the inhabitants 
of the capital city, whose commercial and other interests 
are not always identical even with those of their own class 
outside the colony.^ 

That the cry of " self-determination for small nations " 
should have awakened aspirations, while as yet no claim to 
a national status could be shown, is neither to be wondered 
at, nor indeed to be condemned. For these aspirations, 
though occasionally marred by ill-advised language in the 
native press, have, on the whole, been characterised by 
moderation, and conducted by constitutional methods.^ 
Prosperity, combined with a wrong system of education and 
widespread illiteracy, has indeed, alike in Ireland, in Egypt, 
and in India, invariably given rise to unrest and sedition.* 

The real problem is the representation of the bulk of the 
population, more especially the second of the two classes, 
which in chapter iv. I described as the " advanced com- 
munities." Some of these are literate in Arabic, or in their 
own language, but at present do not speak Enghsh, and are 
too far distant from the seat of Government (which in West 
Africa is unfortunately in all cases on the coast) to render 
attendance by responsible representatives a practical pos- 

The obvious remedies are the spread of education, and 

' 'Times' correspondent in Nigeria, 24th May 1912. 

2 The only serious exception appears to be the " Ethiopian Church movement" 
fostered by American negroes, which was the probable cause of the Natal riots 
and led to bloodshed in Nyasaland in 1915. 

' Never in the history of either Ireland or Egypt had a condition of such 
material prosperity been reached as immediately preceded the outbreak of 
disorder in both, while of India the 'Times' correspondent writes that "a 
standard of prosperity never previously approached coincides with a situation 
never comparably so menacing." — 22nd December 1913. 


especially the knowledge of English, the improvement of com- 
mimications, and the delegation to such communities of the 
largest possible powers of control of their own affairs. But 
even so the desirability that the view of native rulers should 
be heard in Council on questions of legislation which affect 
them, and on other matters, cannot be denied. This could 
perhaps best be effected under present conditions by the 
appointment of an officer charged to ascertain and represent 
their views, and to act as their spokesman, both in the Execu- 
tive and Legislative Councils — just as the Protector of Chinese 
Lq the Straits is charged with the interests of alien immi- 
grants. His explanation to them of the Bills before Council, 
and the opportunity offered to them of expressing opinions, 
of asking questions, or of submitting motions through him, 
would be of great value in identifying them with the Govern- 
ment and in their poUtical education. 

Ordinances applicable to the colony are enacted by the 
Governor " with the advice and consent " of the Council. 
They are operative on receiving the Governor's assent, and 
are transmitted to the Secretary of State, and if not dis- 
allowed by His Majesty become part of the Statute Book. 
In Nigeria, in order to avoid duplication and tautology. 
Bills which refer — as the majority do, wholly or in part- 
to both colony and protectorate, are laid in fuU before the 
Legislative Council, and passed " so far as the provisions 
thereof relate to the colony," any clause which relates ex- 
clusively to the protectorate being outside the purview of 
the Council. If, as I have suggested in a previous chapter, 
the colony and protectorate were merged under a new title, 
the jurisdiction of the Legislative Council should remain re- 
stricted. It might perhaps be made co-extensive with that 
of the Supreme Court, where, as in Nigeria, that Court ope- 
rates within " local Mmits." The Eoyal instructions direct 
that Bills relating to certain specified matters shall not be 
assented to, except in case of urgency, without prior instruc- 
tions from His Majesty through the Secretary of State. Most 
ordinances contain a section empowering the Govemor-in- 
Council to make any necessary Eegulations for giving effect 
to the law, and the main heads under which such Eegulations 
may be made are usually specified in the ordinance. 

The influence on legislation which is exerted by the Council, 
and the extent to which Bills submitted to it are modified 


and improved before being finally passed, depends, of course, 
on the interest taken by members — especially by the unoffl- 
cials — and the abUity with which their views are presented. 
It is the desire of the Governments to appoint to the Legis- 
lative Council those members of the community who are 
most representative of its interests, and can best voice its 

The procedure of the Legislative Council both as to motions 
and as to Bills is modelled on that of the Imperial ParUament. 
The Government majority is represented by the offlcial 
members — ^viz., the holders of certain offices named in the 
" Letters Patent," who are expected to vote with the Govern- 
ment — while the unofflcials represent the independent criti- 
cism of the Parliamentary " Opposition." 

This principle was laid down in a circular, dated 17th 
August 1868, from the Duke of BucMngham and Chandos — 
at that time Secretary of State for the Colonies. Ofificial 
members may, if necessary, be required to support the Crown 
— e.g., to vote ia favour of a Government BiU — ^but if an 
officer of the Crown has conscientious scruples, which the 
Governor is unable to remove, he may be excused from taking 
part in measures to which he objects on these grounds. He 
could not, however, continue to hold an office which carries 
with it a seat on the Council, if his conscience should not 
permit him to give to the Crown such support as may be 
necessary. In practice, therefore, an official member may in 
no case vote against Government.^ If there is a unanimously 
hostile unofficial vote, a clause may (if the Governor so 
directs) be inserted suspending the operation of the ordi- 
nance until His Majesty's pleasure is known. 

The Executive CoimcU consists of the holders of the prin- 
cipal offices of the Government, who are named in the Boyal 
instructions. They form an advisory body, before which the 

^ Lord Milner, speaking in the House of Lords on 12th May 1920, justified the 
official majority in the following terms : " The only justification for keeping an 
official majority in any colony is that we are convinced that we are better judges, 
for the time being, of the interests of the native population than they are them- 
selves. Unless we thought that, we should not be justified in keeping our 
official majority. If that is the case, then I think that the argument that the 
unofficial vote was against you is not an argument which possesses any force. 
The responsibility rests with us. It is not as if we departed from the principle 
of trusteeship. On the contrary, on the principle of trusteeship, we keep the 
authority in the hands which we think for the time being most competent to use 
it, and we must not be fearful about making use of that reserve power." Lord 
Cromer expressed the same view. — ' Literary and Political Essays,' p. 12. 


Governor must lay all matters of importance, and in par- 
ticular any BiU which he proposes to bring before the Legis- 
lative Council, or to enact for the protectorate, and any 
Eegulation or Order which he proposes to make under any 
ordinance which requires that the Eegulations, &c., shall be 
made by the Govemor-in-Council. 

In addition, various duties are laid upon the Council either 
by Eoyal instructions or by Statute, or by His Majesty's 
Colonial Eegulations,^ such as the final approval of all pen- 
sions, gratuities, and other expenditure not specifically pro- 
vided in the estimates, the review of aU capital sentences, 
the confirmation of sentences of deportation, and inquiry 
into cases of misconduct by any except very subordinate 

The Governor presides, and in case of divergence of opinion 
his decision prevails ; but any member may record his dis- 
sent in the Minutes, which are periodically transmitted to 
the Secretary of State. Only such matters are discussed as 
are laid before the Council by the Governor ; but a member 
who wishes to bring forward any question, and is not per- 
mitted by the Governor to do so, may in like manner record 
the fact with his reasons. The proceedings of the Council 
are confidential, and every member is bound by oath not to 
dividge the matters debated. 

The Council may include unofficial members nominated 
by the Crown, if so provided by the Eoyal iastructions. The 
advice of such members may on occasion be of great value to 
the Governor ; but, on the other hand, a merchant may find 
his position embarrassing, should projects be discussed, or 
information acquired in his capacity as ComiciUor, which 
affect his personal interests, and are not known to his com- 
mercial competitors. An Executive Councillor, moreover, 
would usually be a member of the Legislative Council, and his 
position as an independent critic of any BUI is prejudiced if, 
as a member of the Executive Council — ^which is practically 
the Government — ^he has already committed himself before 
consulting public opinion. So far as Europeans are concerned, 
business men in the tropics have rarely time to devote to the 

' These Regulations are merely directions given by the Crown to Governors of 
Crown colonies and protectorates for guidance. They do not constitute a con- 
tract between the Crown and its servants ; on the contrary, tbey are alterable 
from time to time without the consent of Qovernment servants. — Taring, p. 56. 


details of executive government. The new constitution of 
Kenya provides for two unofflcials on the Executive Council. 

In Mgeria and other dependencies of great size the Gover- 
nor (unless he delegates all powers to his deputy) must be 
able to summon a Council at more than one centre, if it be 
only for the transaction of statutory obligations. This need 
is met by the power vested in the Governor to summon 
oflBcers as " Extraordinary Members." 

The Executive CouncU is an institution of the utmost 
value. It affords the Governor an invaluable opportunity 
of inviting the criticism and suggestions of the ablest and 
most experienced of his staff, not individually but collectively, 
when the views of one are opposed or confirmed by another, 
weak points are detected and new aspects brought to Mght. 
Every dependency should be provided with an Executive 
Council. There was none in Northern Mgeria prior to its 
amalgamation with Southern Mgeria, and there is stiU none 
in Uganda.^ 

The Governor, of course, always has it in his power to 
appoint a committee to deal with any particular matter ; and 
in formulating any large scheme, or in drafting any specially 
constructive ordinance, he would naturally have availed 
himself to the full of the advice of the officers who had special 
knowledge of the subject. But committees and departmental 
experts are alike liable to take too restricted a view.^ When 
the results of their labours — expanded it may be by the 
Governor's own views and experience — are laid before the 

^ There are " Advisory Councils " in Zanzibar (see note, p. 34), the Sudan, and 
Northern Rhodesia. The latter, consisting of the Administrator and Secretary 
and five unoflBeial members elected by the European settlers, was created in 1918. 
The unofficials submit a list of questions, to which the Administrator replies, and 
resolutions are passed and recorded. In response to a petition from them for an 
increased share in the government, the Chartered Company has agreed that all 
details of revenue and expenditure, and all draft laws affecting Europeans (unless 
urgent and affecting Imperial policy), shall be laid before them, and their views 
submitted to the High Commissioner before the law is enacted. Lord Buxton's 
Committee recommends the creation of a Legislative Council. — Cmd. 1471/1921. 

The Governor-General's Council in the Sudan was created in 1910, and consists 
of four ex-officio and two to four members nominated by him. The Budget and 
all laws must be passed in Council. There is no Legislative Council. — F.O. 
Handbook 98, p. 69. 

^ The East African 'Economic Commission' of 1919 (pp. 23, 24) suggests that 
decentralisation could be achieved by the creation of Advisory Boards, and in 
particular by an " Economic Development Board." The powers which it is 
suggested should be conferred on this Board go far beyond those of an Advisory 
Committee, and would almost certainly result in friction with the Legislative and 
Executive Councils. 


Executive Council, it has in my experience constantly hap- 
pened that suggestions of great value are made, and flaws 
detected, by the fresh minds brought to bear on the subject. 

Government by committees is proverbially unsatisfactory, 
and may degenerate into a means of shirking responsibility 
or of limiting free discussion. Their chief value consists in 
sifting evidence and recording opinions, upon which a larger 
body, unbiassed as the representatives of particular interests, 
may form a considered judgment. Undue weight is apt to be 
attached to the recommendations of a committee of experts, 
whose conclusions are not infrequently the result of a com- 
promise on points of very unequal importance.^ The Execu- 
tive Council forms an admirable body for fuU and free dis- 
cussion, to which experts can, if desired, be summoned. 

In a smaU colony in which the interests of the bulk of 
the population are focussed in the capital city, or in which 
the means of communication by railway are good, the Legis- 
lative Council may be a fairly representative body. Its 
unofficial members are influenced by a pubUc opinion voiced 
in the Press, and made vocal wherever men meet and discuss 
affairs. Membership is a dignity which carries with it con- 
siderable responsibility. 

Except perhaps in East Africa, where there is a large 
number of European settlers, these conditions are not usually 
found iQ an African dependency. Great distances intervene, 
necessitating many days' travel, and the Press is not an 
efficient organ of the best opinion — ^European and native. 
In Mgeria, for instance, there is a considerable European 
and educated native community, not only at Lagos, where the 
Council sits, but at Kano, Kaduna, Bukuru (Minesfield), 
Calabar, and Port Harcourt, none of which are less than 
three days' travel by sea or land from Lagos — equal in point 
of time to the distance between London and Gibraltar. Clearly 
no ordinary Council can succeed in focussing public opinion 
in such circumstances. 

To afford in some degree a paUiative for this difficulty, 
there has been established in Mgeria a Council which, like 
the General Council of French West Africa, meets yearly, 
usually on the last days of the year, and has a large member- 
ship, including representatives — British and native — ^from 
every important centre, and of aU important interests — 

' See Mr Bonar Law's opinions quoted on page 171. 


banking, shipping, commerce, and mining (the Lagos and 
Calabar Chambers of Commerce, and the Chamber of Mines, 
each appoint a member). The official members include all 
Executive Councillors and Residents of Provinces, &c. The 
unofficial members comprise six Europeans and six natives, 
the latter including some of the leadiag chiefs from the most 
distant parts.^ It is unfortunate that at present few of these 
can speak EngUsh, but this wiU be remedied ia course of time, 
and the prospect of attending the Council wiU form an incen- 
tive to the rising generation to learn EngUsh. 

The proceedings hitherto have consisted of an address by 
the Governor, in which he reviews the events of the year, 
gives the latest possible statistics of trade and finance, and 
explains questions of policy and legislation. This is followed 
by debates both on the address and on motions previously 
submitted by members to the president. Thus ample scope 
for criticism or suggestion is afforded in regard to legislation 
past and future — or in regard to development works (railways, 
harbours, &c.), or any other matter which members may 
desire to bring forward. The Council has no legislative 

The Mgerian CouncU is an attempt to bring together re- 
presentatives from all parts of a vast country for purposes 
of discussion, at least once in the year, siace distances and 
lack of means of communication render it impossible for them 
to assemble as frequently as is necessary in the case of a Legis- 
lative Council. As an experiment still ia embryo, it may, I 
think, claim some success,^ and the experience gained wiU 
show in what directions its usefulness can best be augmented. 
My successor has intimated that it is proposed to endow it 
with some measure of financial control. Some of the desiderata 
put forward by unofflcials may perhaps be better attained by 
the Economic Board suggested in a later chapter (p. 492). 

^ The honour of appointment is much coveted. The Sultan of Sokoto was 
eager to attend, though the journey involved 256 miles by road and over 
700 by rail. 

^ The Member of the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce vfho was deputed to 
report for that body on the proceedings of the Council for 1916 writes : " After 
reading the report through, as I have done, several times, I have become much 
more firmly convinced that the Nigerian Council, so long as it is treated by the 
Governor of the colony as a deliberative and active body (as now), has in it the 
possibility of doing an immense amount of good service, and of developing the 
colony on sound business lines, and we merchants should appreciate . . . the 
idea of such a Council and its present formation and importance." 


West African merchants have raised the question of directors 
of firms coming to Nigeria to attend the Council as temporary 
extraordinary members, and the secretary of their association 
remarks that it is due to the proceedings of the Council that 
the merchants have been prompted to take a part in the dis- 
cussion of the problems of Mgeria, instead of merely criticis- 
ing Government action, as they have usually done in the past. 

Coming now to the oflBcial personnel of the administration ; 
— ^the Governor is appointed by a Eoyal Commission, and 
his duties are defined in Eoyal instructions. " He is the 
single and supreme authority, responsible to and representa- 
tive of His Majesty . . . entitled to the obedience, aid, and 
assistance of all military and civil oflBcers." ^ He may grant 
pardons or remit penalties. He appoints, and subject to 
certain Eegulations suspends and dismisses, public servants, 
assents or refuses assent to Bills passed by the Legislative 
Council, with the exception of Bills on certain matters re- 
served for the signification of His Majesty's pleasure. He 
issues warrants for the expenditure of money required for 
the public service. " The Governor is, of course, bound to 
obey the King's commands conveyed to him by the Secretary 
of State in his legislative as well as in his executive capacity, 
whether or not the course prescribed accord with his personal 
views and opinions." ^ A Secretary of State recently observed 
that " the authority and responsibility of the Governor is 
the basis on which Crown colony administration is founded, 
and it must not be weakened." 

The autocracy of the Governor is limited on the one hand 
by the control of the Secretary of State, who exercises a real 
autocracy, and whose sanction is required not merely in matters 
of importance, but in many which are absurdly trivial ; and 
on the other hand, by the influence of the Councils.^ A 
Governor normally holds office for six years. In West Africa 
he is, or was, expected, like all other Government servants, 
to take leave to England after twelve months' residence, 
involving an absence from his duties of upwards of five 
months (see pp. 105-110). 

■ Colonial Regulations. ^ Circular of 17th August 1868. 

' It is interesting to note that in the island of Guam the American Governor 
exercises absolute powers, and lately issued a decree that since " the practice of 
whistling is an entirely unnecessary and irritating noise, no person shall whistle 
within the limits of the city," under penalty of $5 executive fine. — 'Times,' 29th 
July 1920. 


During his absence the officer who takes his place is vested 
■with the full powers of Governor. He has the legal right to 
make or repeal laws or regulations, to inaugurate or abandon 
important works ; and ia matters of policy, especially as 
regards native afEairs, he can give ruliags and pledges to 
chiefs in the name of the Government. He occupies Govern- 
ment House, and is addressed as " His Excellency." He 
would not, however, in practice be allowed to reverse the 
policy of the Governor or to initiate radical changes. 

The officer who acts as Governor is usually the Colonial 
Secretary, through whose hands all the Minutes and files have 
passed which relate to the various matters which have been 
submitted by the Governor. He is therefore famUiar with 
the history and antecedents of each question which may 
arise, and has been in close touch with the Governor, and 
knows his views. These are undoubted advantages ; but 
if we may assume that the guidance of the policy ia regard 
to the native population, and discrimination ia matters in- 
volving the interests of non-natives, constitute not only the 
most important of the functions of the Governor, but also 
the sphere in which the initiative rests primarily upon him- 
self, and is not shared with the departmental officers of his 
Council to the same extent as his other duties, it seems clear 
that the officer who takes his place as Acting-Governor should 
be a man of administrative experience, rather than one 
with the training of a secretariat officer. To meet this diffi- 
culty the experiment has been tried of appointing as secretary 
the senior or most capable officer from the administrative 
branch, but this course has two disadvantages. In the first 
place, the administrative officer is without experience in the 
management of a large office, and out of touch with depart- 
mental requirements. In the second place, the staff of the 
secretariat (to which it is especially necessary to attract 
exceptionally good men) are afforded no prospect of attaining 
to the highest post in their department, and it consequently 
becomes unpopular. 

It has been argued that a sacrifice of continuity is in- 
volved if a Lieut.-Governor acts for the Governor ; but since 
it can be arranged that the same Lieut.-Governor should 
always act as deputy, continuity in the Governor's office 
would be maintained; and since the same Resident would 
usually act for the Lieut.-Governor (who as Deputy-Governor 


is himself present to ensure continuity), the argument does 
not seem to have much force. Moreover, since it is probable 
that the senior Besident would in due course succeed to the 
Lieut.-Governorship if he has proved his competence, a greater 
measure of permanent continuity would be secured. 

In my judgment there should be at least one Lieut.-Governor 
in every African dependency, and he (or the senior i£ there 
is more than one) is the officer best qualified to act for the 
Governor. The normal duties of a Lieut.-Governor in Mgeria 
are (as we shall presently see) only less onerous and responsible 
than those of the Governor himself ; and as a member of 
the Executive Council he is already familiar with most of 
the larger questions of material development, and in close 
touch with the Governor. 

The appointment of the Colonial Secretary to act as Gover- 
nor compels the Secretary of State, when selecting a new 
Governor, to choose between a man whose training has been 
chiefly in an office, and one who has wide experience in 
administrative work among the natives but has never been 
tested as an Acting-Governor. Possibly this may have 
prompted him to look outside the ranks of the Colonial Civil 

The Lieut.-Governor — ^who would, as I suggest, act on 
occasion as Deputy- Governor — would usually be selected from 
the ranks of the Provincial Administrative Staff, though, 
of course, exceptions would be made. He will bring to his 
new post a wide understanding of the people and their lan- 
guage, and as Eesident of a Province will have had practical 
experience in the handling of men. A capable man will soon 
pick up the threads of his wider administrative duties, and 
his early course of training in the secretariat will have made 
him sufficiently familiar with its routine. His capability for 
the post will already have been put to practical test by acting 
for the Lieut.-Governor in his absence — and there are plenty 
of Besidents from whom to choose if one proves unsuitable. 

The secretariat-trataed officer, on the other hand, has not 
that experience of actual administrative responsibility which 
is only acquired by the District Officer who has risen to be a 
Eesident.i Nor does the proposal to combine the secretariat 

1 Lord Curzon, when Viceroy of India, set himself to meet the criticism that 
" the Government of India has been aystematised and formalised to such a degree 
that the executive officers are the slaves of clerical routine, and the judicial ones 


with the administrative branch as a single department appear 
to offer any better solution. Bach requires specialised tratu- 
ing, and the qualifications which make for excellence in the 
one are almost the reverse of those required in the other.^ 
Moreover, since the number of admiuistrative ofificers in a 
large protectorate may be twenty times that of the secre- 
tariat, the latter under such a system would suffer from con- 
stant change ; and since it is a department of record on 
which the Governor depends for accuracy of reference and 
knowledge of precedent, this would be fatal to its utility. 
Some secretariat training is invaluable to a District Officer, 
and for this he can be temporarily attached as supernumerary. 

These views will no doubt be opposed by the office men, 
who alone have the opportunity of writing Minutes on such 
subjects ; but for my part I have no doubt as to which class 
will have the widest knowledge of and sympathy with the 
subject races, and the more practical experience of adminis- 
trative problems. Neither have I any doubt from which class 
the more useful type of African Governor can be recruited. 

A Lieut.-Govemor in Mgeria is in supreme administrative 
charge of the group of provinces for which he is responsible. 
He prepares an annual budget, and submits it to the Governor, 
and when it is approved he controls the expenditure votes. 
Such of the Governor's powers, whether statutory or execu- 
tive, as are delegated to him are precisely notified in the 
' Gazette,' in order that there may be no misunderstanding 
either on his part or that of the public. They are as wide 
as possible, and, generally speaking, exclude only matters 
reserved by statute to the Govemor-in-Council (which can- 
not be delegated), the initiation of legislation, the general 
direction of policy, and the approval of unbudgeted expendi- 
ture — ^in which the Governor himself has very limited powers. 

The post of Lieut.-Govemor was not a new one in West 
Africa, but hitherto the officer who held the appointment 

of legal technicalities ; that both alike have lost their old touch with the people ; 
and that the only classes which benefit by this development are the office Babus, 
and the barristers and 'pleaders,' parasitic growths alien to the soil of India, 
but thriving on the system we have introduced . . . that the District Officers 
have lost their old touch with the people under the pressure of modern ' Secre- 
tariat' government." — 'Times' (special correspondent), 13th November 1901. 

' In the very interesting description of Lord Curzon's "New Province" in 
India, we are reminded that " a methodical and highly-trained administrative 
class in proportion to its scientific evolution becomes less and less adapted to 
pioneering in wild tracts." — Ibid. 


had, so far as I am aware, no clearly defined powers or 
authority on which the public could rely. His functions and 
duties were shadowy, and depended on the latitude given by 
the Governor. When dealing with the subject of Decentralisa- 
tion ia the last chapter, I discussed the relations of the Lieut.- 
Governor with the Governor on the one hand, and the various 
departments on the other. His most important duty is to 
watch over and co-ordinate the political administration. 
" The question," wrote Lord Morley, " is whether the judg- 
ment of the Lieut. -Governor should be fortified and enlarged 
by two or more competent advisers, with an ofi&cial and 
responsible share in his deliberations." Later, the Lieut.- 
Governor ia India was provided with an Executive CouncU of 
three administrative heads — but no such step has as yet been 
taken in Africa. 

Next to the Governor and Lieut.-Governor, the most impor- 
tant administrative officer in Nigeria is the Eesident of a 
Province — the average area of which is 16,000 square miles, 
with an average population of 800,000. As the senior official, 
he is, generally speaking, responsible for the efficiency of the 
pubUc service ia his province, but his first duty is with the 
native administration, including the conduct of the pro- 
vincial and native courts. The departmental services are 
controlled by their own heads, who assign to their subordi- 
nates their professional duties and responsibilities, and convey 
their orders to them direct. 

The Eesident is the backbone of the administration. He is 
Judge of the Provincial Court, of which his staff are com- 
missioners. Through them he supervises and guides the 
native rulers — as I shall describe in chapter x. In the 
provinces with the most advanced native organisation he is 
counsellor and adviser, while among primitive tribes he must 
necessarily accept a larger measure of direct administration. 
His advice when given must be followed, and his authority 
is supported by the weight of the British Administration. 
His powers and duties are clearly and fully set out in the 
printed iastructions which I have described in the last chapter. 
Ahke for the information of the Governor — to enable him to 
maintain uniformity of policy — and to afford the Eesident 
a means of setting out his difficulties and describing his pro- 
gress, he submits a yearly report under specified headings 
(to which are appended a few statistical forms), dealing with 


the provincial and native courts, taxation and assessment, 
education, slavery, trade, general progress, and other matters 
of interest. These reports stimulate thought, and form 
valuable records. They afford to a Eesident's successor a 
full account of aU matters of interest, and enable him to 
preserve continuity.^ 

A Eesident is relieved as far as possible of general adminis- 
trative work (unconnected with the native administration) 
by the Lieut.-Governor, and by " Station Magistrates " ap- 
pointed to the principal centres. The provinces ia Nigeria 
are so large — Sokoto and Bornu are each larger than Ireland, 
and two others have a much denser population — ^that a 
Eesident must rely largely upon his District Officers, and 
delegate many duties to them. He and they are the medium 
of aU important deahngs with the natives. 

The Eesidential system of the Federated Malay States 
has been quoted as similar to that set up in Nigeria, but siace 
both in its origin and development it differed essentially 
from it, it may be of interest to contrast the two. 

When the Imperial Government replaced the Chartered 
Company in Northern Nigeria, and effective occupation had 
become necessary to establish British rights, the new Govern- 
ment found itself compelled to overcome the hostility of the 
Moslem Emirs, and to check their slave-raiding by force of 
arms. They were conquered, or submitted, and the country 
was divided into provinces, each of which was placed under 
the charge of a Eesident, who was thus the representative 
of the Governor in a country in which the King's sovereignty 
had been asserted, and full responsibihty for administration 

In the early history of Malaya very different conditions 
existed. The British settlements were surrounded by wholly 
independent native states, with which the Imperial Govern- 
ment had no desire whatever to interfere, in spite of their 
requests for protection. In 1873 the chronic internecine war 
which existed among them, and their interference with the 

' The report includes extracts from those of the DWisional OflBcers, so that the 
progress of each division may be separately related as part of the single unit of 
the province, under its various subject heads. Departmental statistics are 
eliminated, but a general summary of the work of departments in relation to 
their bearing on the provincial administration is given. The report deals with 
facts, events, and conclusions. Recommendations and discussions are excluded 
from it. 



trade of the British colony, induced Lord Kimberley to 
suggest the possibility of appointing a British officer to reside 
in such of them as might consent to the arrangement — on 
the analogy of the Eesidents at the Courts of independent 
Eajas in India. 

In the event a Eesident was murdered, and a powerful 
military force exacted reprisals. The effect of this punish- 
ment, and the removal of obstructive chiefs, proved more 
effective than many years of futile advice. Though Eesidents 
were stiU instructed that they would be held answerable if 
they exceeded their rdle as advisers, they were now feared, 
and were able to engage a staff of Europeans, to raise a poHce 
force, and to collect the revenue. This was adequate for 
an effective administration, for the country was very rich. 
State Councils, on which the Eesident and his assistant sat, 
were set up, and Courts of Law, with European magistrates. 

Sir P. Swettenham, from whose book I am quoting,^ speak- 
ing of one of the Eesidents, says : " No doubt he consulted 
the local chief in aU matters of importance, but he received 
no help from that quarter, and simply pushed on alone, when 
he could not carry him with him." The British officers had, 
in fact, ceased to be " Eesidents " except ia name, and were 
actually " administering the country in the name of the 
Sultan " — a rdle which, when it had first been proposed, was 
disapproved by the then Secretary of State. " Each Eesident 
followed his own line in his own State without any particular 
reference to his neighbours," and resented any interference 
or suggestion from outside, until the differences, at first 
irritating, became unbearable, and led to Federation — with 
the approval of a Secretary of State of wider outlook (Mr 
Chamberlain). " The system," says Sir F. Swettenham, 
" was built up without much more than routine references to 
the Governor," who only knew what Eesidents chose to tell 
him — ^for Singapore was too distant for him to exercise any 
effective control. They submitted an annual report and a 
budget, which required the Governor's approval, and no vote 
could be exceeded without his sanction — a " very great and 
necessary safeguard," as Sir F. Swettenham observes. 

Prom first to last the theoretical independence of the 
States was the governing factpr in the system evolved in 
Malaya. The so-called " Eesident " was in fact a Eegent, 

' ' British Malaya,' chapters viii. to xii. 


practically uncontrolled by the Governor or by Whitehall, 
governing his " independent " State by direct personal ride, 
with or without the co-operation of the native ruler. He 
had no aggressive European neighbours on his frontiers, and 
in the last resort depended on his armed police and the 
military forces of the colony, and his abundant revenue made 
him self-supportiQg. This, as we shall see, is the very anti- 
thesis of the Mgerian system. Sir P. Swettenham describes 
how Downing Street disarmed the criticism of the non- 
progressive party at home by reiterating that the Eesident 
must only give advice, and the onus of exceeding those orders 
was thrown on the men on the spot, as the only possible 
way of avoiding failure, and of carrying out the wishes of the 
Secretary of State. 

Northern Mgeria up to the time of amalgamation was 
still dependent on a grant-in-aid, and ia the early days it 
had no great source of wealth and no industrious Chinese 
to develop its resources, or to supply nine-tenths of the tax 
revenue. By the Secretary of State's instructions, it had to 
maintain a very large and costly military force, which absorbed 
a.11 and more than all of its local revenue. To-day its native 
administrations are comparatively wealthy, but the railway 
which has created that wealth, and the whole machinery 
of Government — outside the native administrations them- 
selves — ^was, and is, paid for from general revenue. The one 
" very great and necessary safeguard " imposed on the Resi- 
dents of the Malay States — viz., that the votes in their ap- 
proved budgets should not be altered or exceeded without 
the Governor's sanction (though the States they administered 
were independent, and solely self-supporting) — ^has, however, 
been ruled by the Colonial Ofl&ce to be unnecessary in the 
case of the native administrations of Mgeria. 

Dissiinilar as the two systems were in origin and in method, 
the problems which confronted the Eesidents were practically 
identical, and have been solved with the same success in both 
cases. The conclusion emphasised by Sir P. Swettenham is 
" the advisability of letting people who live 8000 miles away 
manage their own domestic affairs without foreign inter- 

Every province is divided into three or four divisions, 
each imder a District Officer, who again has assistant dis- 
trict officers under him in charge of districts. The District 


OflBcer comes of the class which has made and maintained 
the British Empire. That Britain has never lacked a super- 
abundance of such men is in part due to national character, 
in part perhaps to our law of primogeniture, which compels 
the younger son to carve out his own career. His assets 
are usually a public school, and probably a university, educa- 
tion, neither of which have hitherto furnished him with an 
appreciable amoimt of positive knowledge especially adapted 
for his work. But they have produced an English gentleman 
with an almost passionate conception of fair play, of pro- 
tection of the weak, and of " playing the game." They have 
taught him personal initiative and resource, and how to com- 
mand and to obey. There is no danger of such men faUing a 
prey to that subtle moral deterioration which the exercise 
of power over inferior races produces in men of a different 
type, and which finds expression in cruelty. The military 
officer turned civiUan invariably becomes an ardent champion 
of his prot^g^s, and no one shows greater aversion to mili- 
tarist methods than he.^ If occasionally some colonial officer 
suffers from " swoUen-head " (as a member complained in the 
House), and exaggerates the importance of his office, may it 
not be charitably ascribed to that very devotion to his work, 
and realisation of its responsibility and magnitude which has 
made our Empire a success ? No words of mine, after long 
experience, can do justice to the unselfish, conscientious work 
of these officers. 

There is no career ia which the aspirations of youth can 
take a finer form than ia the service of the Empire, and 

^ " The administration so far as the masses are concerned is mainly carried on by 
the District Officers, . . . upon them the maintenance of latr and order largely 
depends. They alone represent the British Baj in the minds of tens of millions 
who have not the faintest idea of what a Legislative Council means. The 
ultimate responsibility for the welfare of the native races rests not with the 
educated native, nor yet with the native rulers, but in the hands of the control- 
ling power — e.g., the District Officer, to whom the native ultimately appeals for 
justice. He is the exact opposite of the bureaucrat." So writes Lord Sydenham 
of India, and the words are equally true of Africa. — ('Times,' 10th August 1917.) 
The code which must guide the administrator in the tropics is, as Mr Churchill 
has finely said, to be found in no book of regulations. It demands that in every 
circumstance, and under all conditions, he shall act in accordance with the 
traditions of an English gentleman, whose first quality it is to comprehend the 
point of view of the other side. — (Speech, June 1921.) Sir W. Geary, writing of 
West Africa, says that to each individual native there has come prosperity, and 
not merely acquiescence, but a joyous and friendly welcome of British rule. This 
he ascribes to the high character and judicious conduct of the officials of the 
Civil Service, which has admirably fulfilled its duty to the Crown and to Africa. 
—('West Africa,'.6th November 1920.) 


there is none with less sordid ideals. To fit him for his duties, 
the candidate selected for an administrative post in the 
tropics must go through a special course of study in England. 
He attends the lectures prescribed, and must show that he 
has profited by them.^ After he has arrived in Africa he must 
pass an examination in simple law, judicial procedure, and 
in the ordiuances, regulations, and general orders of the local 
Government. If his duties lie in a Moslem State, he must 
know something of Koranic law, which controls ahke the 
procedure of the courts and the social Ufe of the people. 
He must study the native laws and customs, which react 
on Koranic law in Moslem districts, and replace it in pagan 
areas. Within a specified time he must pass a preUminary 
examioation ia one of the most widely-spoken native lan- 
guages, to be followed by a more severe test later on. Failure 
to qualify in these tests may delay his promotion. 

There is no need to emphasise how completely an officer 
who knows nothing of the native language is in the hands 
of his interpreter, who either from his imperfect knowledge 
of Enghsh, or by criminal latent, may whoUy misrepresent 
what he was told to translate, or, on the other hand, may 
threaten an ignorant native that he will mislead the Dis- 
trict Officer unless he is bribed. Incalculable harm has 
thus been done, and the interpreter becomes the real power. 
On the other hand, the officer who knows the language cannot 
fail to acquire a keener iaterest in and sympathy with the 
people. If the language used be some pagan dialect, and 
the officer can speak the more generally known language, 
it will be better for him to use it ia speaking to his inter- 
preter, for by so doing he ensures simplicity of diction, and 
the iaterpreter is more likely to understand his meaniag 
than if he spoke ia fluent English. If he uses Enghsh he 
should employ the simplest phrases, and make the interpreter 
repeat what he is about to translate ; and later, if possible 
(if the matter is of importance), he should verify his accuracy 
by employiag a second interpreter. The vital importance 
of this matter is my justification for this somewhat lengthy 
reference to it. 

An officer is fortunate if there be a siagle language in his 
district, which has been reduced to writing with text-books 
and vocabularies. It is ia the iaterest of the natives and 

^ See footnote, p. 138. 


of good administration that the Government should use every 
endeavour to promote the use of a lingua franca — in Mgeria, 
Hausa in the north and Yoruba, and Ibo iu the south ; in 
East Africa, Swaheli. These are already generally understood 
even among primitive tribes, owing to their use by itinerant 
native traders. Where no such medium can be used, English 
— even though it be " pidgin EngUsh " — ^is already a means 
of communication, and will become more so as education 

The duties which a District Officer is called upon to per- 
form are very varied. In an isolated station he may have to 
discharge the functions of all the departments — ^postal, cus- 
toms, poUce, and engineer — ^in addition to his normal work. 
He is the medium of communication between the military or 
the departmental officer and the native chiefs in matters of 
labour and supplies, and is especially charged to see that 
labourers are fuUy paid and properly treated. To him alike 
the missionary, the trader, and the miner look for assistance 
and advice. The leper and the slave find in him a protector. 
As in India, he combines judicial with executive powers, and 
as Commissioner of the Provincial Court he deals with cases 
on the spot, within the limits of the judicial powers conferred 
upon him. These powers in Mgeria vary with the extent of 
his legal knowledge and proved judicial competence, irrespec- 
tive of his rank. He is also charged with the constant super- 
vision of the native courts (see chapters xxvii., xxviii.) He 
enforces the ordinances, issues licences, keeps up the pre- 
scribed records, and renders the prescribed returns. These 
are reduced to the minimum necessary, on the one hand, to 
afford his superior officers an insight into the way he is doing 
his work, and on the other, for the compilation of such ad- 
ministrative and statistical records as the Government may 
consider essential. " The work done by a political officer," 
said Sir H. Lawrence, "in his district surrounded by the 
people, is greatly superior to the work done in his office sur- 
rounded by untrustworthy officials." Eecognising this great 
truth, it must be the aim of the Government to reduce office 
work in every possible way, and to leave the District Officer 
free to travel and work among the people. 

His duties as assessing officer of the direct (income) tax 
effect much more than the mere collection of revenue. He 
is brought into close touch with the people, and gains an 


intimate knowledge of them, and of the personality and char- 
acter of the chiefs and elders in every village. Dmiag his 
visit to each town he administers justice, inquires iato and 
settles disputes, collects valuable statistics of population, 
agriculture, and industries. He uses every effort to detect 
oppression and extortion if it exists, and impresses on the 
village elders the allegiance they owe to their chiefs, and 
through them to the Government, the obhgation to cease 
from lawless acts, and the right of every individual to appeal 
against injustice. 

The primary object of travelling (accompanied when possible 
by the local chief or district headman) is that the District 
Officer may hear the complaiats of the people at first hand. 
It is only by the advent of a British ofBcer that scoundrels, 
misrepresenting the Government action, or extorting what 
they will from the natives in the name of Government, can 
be caught ; for the villagers in their ignorance, supposing 
them to be genuine, dare not as a rule complain. It has been 
abundantly shown by experience that " unrest," resulting in 
murders and outrages, and eventually necessitating the use 
of force, inevitably takes place among primitive tribes when 
districts are not regularly and systematically visited. By 
frequent touring, abuses are redressed before they become 
formidable, the law-abiding people are encouraged to restrain 
the turbulent and lawless elements, and trust and confidence 
in Government is fostered. The results of the District Ofiicer's 
careful and precise inquiries are contained in the ' Provincial 
Eecord Book ' and in the map of the district, to which he is 
always adding the new information acquired on tour. 

The District Officer who has achieved success in the assess- 
ment of his district will have done much to promote its pro- 
gress and civilisation. The test of his work is the absence 
of crime and the efficiency of the chiefs and native courts. 
Nor must he neglect the development of its economic re- 
sources, the best method of improving them and enhancing 
their market value by proper preparation, and the cheapest 
methods of transport. For this purpose he should maintain 
touch with the traders, prospectors, and miners in his dis- 
trict. The measure of his efficiency depends largely on his 
interest in his work, and this is stimulated by the feeling of 
responsibility, which is the natural result of being trusted. 

A District Officer's influence in his district naturally depends 


on the extent to which" he has acquired the confidence of 
chiefs and people, mastered their language, and studied their 
local customs. It is therefore important that he should not 
be transferred to another sphere of work, where he has to 
begiD afresh — least of all should contiguous colonies have a 
single roster of promotion as has been suggested. It may be 
valuable for the newly-joiaed oflBcer to serve under different 
Eesidents, and in different districts, in order to enlarge his 
outlook, and enable him to learn from each ; nor is it possible 
to retain juniors permanently ia the same district, or to gauge 
their qualifications and special aptitudes imtil they have had 
a varied opportunity. But as a District Officer gains seniority, 
and with it enlarged powers, it becomes increasingly impor- 
tant that he should remain in the district or province where 
he has acquired local knowledge and influence, for the African 
is naturally reserved and suspicious, and slow to give his 
confidence. It is, moreover, disheari;ening to the zealous 
District Officer to have to begui all over again in a new sphere. 
There are some who like change. They are not the best. 
When eventually he becomes the Eesident of a Province 
he should never be changed without strong reasons. The 
war, and the inadequacy of the staff even prior to it, have 
no doubt nulitated greatly against the application of this 




The classification of the stafi' — Selection by nomination — Selection by 
modified competition — Courses of study — Adequacy of staff — Cost of 
the staff in West Africa — Medical examination of candidates — Wives 
in the tropics — Housing in Northern Nigeria, 1898-1901 — Causes of 
mortality — Improved conditions — Need of sanataria and recreation — 
Native huts as dwelling-houses — House-building in the tropics — 
Water-supply — Segregation — Food in the tropics — Medical and 
nursing staff — Private practice — Hints for health — Medical work 
among natives. 

The staff in the tropical dependencies may be divided 
into three classes — (a) the administrative and secretarial, 
corresponding to the Covenanted Service in India — to which 
may be added the judicial ; (6) the Departmental, corre- 
sponding to the Indian Uncovenanted Service ; and (c) the 
temporary staff, which consists either of officers seconded 
from the permanent staff of other parts of the Empire, or 
of men appointed on agreements with the Crown agents for 
specific periods, and non-pensionable, who, however, after 
completing a certain number of years' service, may be trans- 
ferred to the pensionable staff. All military officers and 
some few civilians belong to the seconded class, while to the 
third category belong the large majority of foremen in the 
public works and railway employees. 

The employment of seconded officers in the Postal, Public 
Works, Survey, and other departments has the advantage 
of bringiag in up-to-date technical knowledge ; but unless 
the department is entirely or mainly manned by such officers, 
their introduction in the senior posts disheartens the per- 
manent staff by robbing them of opportunities for promotion. 


The administrative staff of the Home, Indian, and Eastern 
Colonial services are recruited by open competitive examina- 
tion. For the African tropics, candidates are selected by the 
patronage department of the Colonial Office (for the Sudan 
by the Governor-General). Selected officers must satisfy ex- 
aminers that they have benefited by a course of lectures, 
which they are required to attend before taking up their 
appointments.^ This preliminary training was suggested by 
me in September 1903, but proposals which were in advance 
of existing methods eighteen years ago demand reconsidera- 
tion with the enormous increase of the Tropical Civil Service 
and its extension to the Mandated territories. 

" The problem of maintaining order and creating civilisa- 
tion in our African possessions," says Colonel Amery, " is 
at least as difficult as that of administering a settled country 
like India." The staff should, he considers, be recruited in 
the same way as the Indian Civil Service, and on terms of 
pay and pension equally attractive, and not by " the hap- 
hazard methods of personal nomination, which have survived 
from a bygone period." There is ample scope for the creation 
of an African Civil Service, capable of playing a part as dis- 
tinguished as that which the Indian Civil Service has played 
in another field. ^ 

While the Indian Civil Service seems likely to decrease 
both in numbers and in attractiveness. West Africa can no 
longer be regarded as a " death-trap," and the frequent leave 
to England is a great attraction to those who have children 
at school at home. Each group of colonies throughout the 
Empire has its own attractions and disadvantages. In one 
the climate is good, but long and bitter separations from 
children, and perhaps from wives, are unavoidable. Another 
offers better chances of promotion ; in a third, the nature 
of the work is more attractive. 

The results of an absolutely open competition have not, 
I believe, been considered to be an unqualified success in 
India ; but competition, qualified by such conditions as 

' Three courses, each of three months, held annually at the Imperial Institute, 
were inaugurated in 1908. Lectures were given in tropical hygiene, criminal 
law, procedure, and evidence, accountancy, and the cultivation, preparation, and 
uses of tropical products — vegetable and mineral. There was also a separate 
course in surveying, and facilities were afforded for learning Hausa, Arabic, &c. 
Officers of the police forces could be attached for six months to the Royal Irish 

2 ' Union and Strength,' p. 284. 


would attract the right class from our public schools and 
universities, while excluding as far as possible the " bounder," 
the "prig," and the "book- worm," would secure the best 
that England can give, and would relieve the Colonial Offtce 
of much irksome work. 

Sir F. Swettenham, recognising this necessity for temper- 
ing competition by selection, proposes that the candidates 
should be required to obtain a nomination by the Secretary 
of State before examination.^ This would, however, per- 
petuate the burden on the patronage department, and the 
same result might perhaps be attained by a headmaster's 
certificate as to character and participation in field sports, 
&o., which, equally with the medical certificate, would be a 
necessary qualification for the open examination. The patron- 
age department could still give nominations in exceptional 
cases. Alternatively the task of selection might be entrusted 
to a Standing Board — ^possibly a Standing Committee of the 
Council suggested in the next chapter. It would seem desirable 
that the subject should be thoroughly examined by an expert 
committee, with a view to fixing a uniform method of selection, 
and preliminary training of officers of the non-professional 
branch of the Civil Service. 

The courses of study would in the main be common to all, 
but special classes would provide for special needs. They 
coidd be arranged at the universities, or by such agencies as 
the London School of Economics, the School of Oriental Lan- 
guages, Kew, and the Imperial Institute. Since it is desir- 
able that ofiBcers should not take up their appointments in 
the tropics until they are twenty-three years of age, there is 
ample time for takiiig a university degree. In the Indian 
Civil Service selection precedes the imiversity course, and 
thus an opportunity is afforded for specialised study, 
which university candidates for the African tropics have 

Such a scheme as I suggest would ensure that the existence 
of these colonial appointments should be widely known in 
the public schools and universities. The conditions of service 
in each group of colonies (salaries, leave, pensions, &c.) 
could be studied by intending candidates. Ignorance of 
their existence has in the past restricted the list of well- 
qualified candidates, and inquiries add to the correspondence 

1 ' British Malaya,' p. 339. 


entailed on the Colonial OfSce. The alternative methods 
are : — 

(a) A list of special subjects, including those peculiar to 
any group of colonies, would be advertised. Young men 
desirous of entering the Tropical Civil Service would specialise 
in these at a university or elsewhere at their own expense. 
The Selection Board would be largely influenced by the 
diplomas obtained. 

(&) Selection prior to special training, and the payment to 
the selected candidate of a salary while undergoing it. 

Writing in 1903, I pointed out that the French had long 
had such a school. The course was three years, and the fees 
£4 per annum. Those who passed the examinations were 
granted diplomas which quaMed them for the public service, 
and a list was sent to the ministers concerned. The Dutch 
system appears to be somewhat similar.^ 

It is of essential importance that the British staff, especially 
on the first inception of an administration, should be adequate 
for its very onerous duties. The lack of a sufficient staff in 
the first years of an administration, when the work is heaviest, 
means that whoUy impossible demands are made on a few, 
at the cost of many lives and injured constitutions, that touch 
cannot be kept with the native chiefs, and the motives of 
Government explained, with the inevitable result of outbreaks 
due primarily to misconceptions and baseless reports. Of 
this there has been ample evidence, with needless loss of life, 
both in East and West Africa. Delays in filling appointments 
for which monetary provision has been made, and for which 
there was an abundant supply of applicants — as in the early 
days of Northern Mgeria — ^is especially deplorable, and has 
called forth protests from the Press. ^ 

' Mr Alley ne Ireland states that "since 1864 no one is appointed to an 
administrative post in the Dutch East Indies who has not passed the grand 
examination for officials. ... It covers only the history, geography, ethnology, 
laws, institutions, and customs of Netherlands India, and the Malay and 
Javanese languages" — the subjects required being exclusively local. — 'Far 
Eastern Tropics,' p. 183. 

^ "This is a poUoy of unintelligent parsimony. The question which Ministers 
have consciously or unconsciously asked themselves is, ' What is the smallest 
sum with which we can keep things going ? ' What ought to be asked is, ' What 
sum is required to establish and maintain an efficient administration, and to 
put the country as speedily as possible into a position to meet its expenditure 
from its internal resources?' It is a form of economy which has repeatedly led 
to disasters which have cost hundreds of thousands to rectify." — 'Times,' 
1st October 1901. 

When urging a more adequate sta£f for Northern Nigeria (in August 1905) I 


On the other hand, it must, of course, be recognised that the 
staff of a tropical dependency must necessarily be small in 
comparison with its area and population. A liberal grant-in- 
aid — ^by way of loan if otherwise unobtainable — ^may at first 
be necessary to supplement the local revenue, which is in- 
evitably very limited until its resources are developed. Large 
calls are made on that revenue, for the maintenance of troops 
and police to preserve order and to guard its frontiers. In the 
absence of railways and roads, the cost of transport for build- 
ing materials and supplies are unduly heavy. Poor food and 
bad housing add to the effect of a trying chmate, especially 
in West Africa, and necessitate frequent leave, with a conse- 
quential increase of staff to maintain the actual minimum for 
duty, and a disproportionately large medical staff is reqtiired. 

Financial considerations therefore reinforce those of policy, 
and dictate the necessity of ruling through the native rulers 
themselves, while devoting the efforts of the British staff 
to making that rule at once effective and humane. This 
policy, however, takes time to inaugurate. 

In West Africa, to supply the vacancies caused by the 
absence of officers on leave in England, one-third additional 
staff has hitherto normally been required. But if to this be 
added the deficiencies due to invaUdings, extensions of leave 
for ill-health, and local absence from duty for the same cause, 
the proportion actually available for duty is, or certainly was, 
probably not more than half. In other words, the Eevenue 
must provide for double the British staff required for the 
efficient conduct of the administration.'- But it is not only 
or even primarily a question of cost, even though efficiency 
depends on meeting that cost. An even more serious aspect 
lies in the drain thus caused on the yoimg manhood of the 

wrote : " In 1902-3, three years after the inauguration of the administration, the 
Political department cost £30,545, and collected a revenue of £1260. In 
1905-6 it cost £59,089, and collected £69,756, besides carrying out the whole 
of the administrative and judicial work. The cost was rather less than 
doubled, the receipts were multiplied by 56." 

' The committee appointed to consider the desirability of revising the leave 
and pension rules for West Africa presented its report in March 1920. It is 
recommended that the normal residential period of service abroad should be 
from eighteen to twenty-four months, and it should be left to the discretion of 
the Governor to allow any officer to proceed on leave after twelve months — an 
extension of the former system in Northern Nigeria, which was afterwards 
abandoned. A curtailment of the period of leave in England is also recommended, 
with a grant of local leave, and officers are to be encouraged to take their wives. 


Of late years this responsibility has been more fully recog- 
nised. Candidates for West African service must be twenty- 
three years of age, and have to undergo a medical examina- 
tion before selection. If, as sometimes occurs, the local 
medical officers attribute the death of an officer to physi- 
cal causes which ought to have ensured his rejection, the 
responsibility should be brought home to the officer who 
" passed " him. It never is. Such cases are not frequent 
in the Government service, but I am informed that they are 
comparatively common among the young employees of com- 
mercial firms. 

In the debate on the Colonial Office Vote, the spokesman 
of the Colonial Office (Colonel Amery) said that it was the 
desire of the Secretary of State that married life should be 
the rule rather than the exception in the Crown colonies and 
Protectorates.^ That is the desire of every Governor, but 
in the conditions of Africa it is difficult to reahse. In some 
instances it would be impossible for a married man, accom- 
panied by his wife, to discharge his duties efficiently, and 
such instances form no small part of the total — as in the 
case of District Officers, surveyors, and others, who are con- 
stantly travelling, often in districts where a man would 
hesitate to leave his wife alone in camp, while she would 
seriously hamper his work if she were by his side. But puttiag 
these aside, there remains the serious difficulty in regard to 
children — ^inherent in a career in the tropics. Those who are 
familiar with the conditions of life in India, which the writings 
of Mr Kipling and Mrs Steel have pictured to the British 
public, know that even there — where hill-stations with hotels 
and boarding-houses aboimd, and there is a large " Society " 
— the official tied by his work to the plains, and the " grass- 
widow " in the hills, present conditions of life not altogether 

In the highlands of East Africa the case is, of course, 
different, and in other parts of tropical Africa we may hope 
that the reign of law and order on the one hand, and the 
creation of attractive sanataria in the uplands on the other, 
will in part at least provide a solution of the difficulty. The 
advent of heads of commercial firms will tend to faciUtate 
conditions favourable to European family life. 

The necessity of proper housing is now recognised, though 

1 Debate of 23rd August 1920. 


the war interfered with this in the colomes no less than at 
home. When I recall the deplorable conditions which existed 
in 1898 and subsequent years, the measure of progress is 
striking. British ofBcers in N. Mgeria then lived in tem- 
porary grass-huts — ^not rain-proof, and liable to be carried 
away by the violent tornadoes of the Mger Valley, and very 
inferior to the well-thatched mud-waUed native house. A 
year or two later we considered ourselves fortunate when 
three oflacers, or five British N.C.O.'s, shared a wooden hut, 
with a galvanised iron roof, containing three rooms 12 ft. 
square. But it was long before all were thus accommodated, 
even at headquarters. The expenditure for the whole civil 
establishment, " including house-building, vessels, telegraph 
construction, railway survey, &c.," in the first complete 
financial year, 1900-1, is given in the official report as £96,407 
only ! And £35,593 was " saved " from the available funds, 
pitifully smaU as they were, " chiefly through the non- 
appointment of officials till late in the year, more especially 
the Director of Works, so that the urgent works — houses for 
staff, &c. — ^were not begun till towards the close of the year." ^ 
I recollect that at one time we desisted from retaining the 
flag at half-mast, which signalled another death, because its 
frequency had so depressing an effect. 

I have served, with short intervals, for forty years in the 
tropics, mostly in places with the worst climatic reputation, 
and I think that the appalUng death-rate in those early 
years in West Africa was due not so much to the climate as 
to the absence of the necessary housing, &c., and that the 
death-roll would have been hardly appreciably less had we 
lived in the Thames Valley aU the year round in the same 
conditions of overwork, anxiety, housing, and food. 

Looked at from the meanest point of view, it was false 
economy, for not only was efficiency sacrificed, but heavy 
expense was incurred by invalidings, and revenue was wasted 
by the inadequacy of the staff to collect it. It is, as I have 
already said, a cruel mistake to ask of the early pioneers — 
at a time of inevitable strain, anxiety, and heavy responsi- 
bility, with impaired vitality due to bad housing, imnutritious 
food, and latent malaria — that they should work incessantly 
by day and night with the harassing feeling of inability to 
overtake arrears of importance. Lack of adequate subordi- 
1 Annual Reports, No. 377 of 1901, p. 43. 


nate staff, moreover, compels an oflBcer to waste valuable time 
in trivialities and the maintenance of necessary records, 
and leaves him insuflBcient time to deal with essentials. He 
works on, as a British officer will, over-wrought and losing 
groimd, till his health breaks down, and a new hand has 
to take his place, with a sacrifice of continuity and efficiency. 
That is the tale I heard too often in those days. 

Much of this mortaUty and deficiency of staff might have 
been avoided by an Imperial loan charged against the revenues 
of the future, if the nation had appreciated the value of the 
country as Mr Chamberlain did. The Transvaal administra- 
tion began with a loan of £30,000,000 ; Palestine and Mesopo- 
tamia have cost unknown nulhons — ^but the whole authorised 
civil expenditure of Northern Mgeria in the year of its in- 
auguration was £86,000, with a further £50,000 for purchase 
of worn-out steamers and for buildings ! "If the British 
nation," I wrote in 1902, " is not prepared to bear the cost 
of an enterprise which promises good returns, and already 
shows substantial progress, it were better that it had never 
undertaken it." ^ 

Experience thus acquired has taught the home authorities 
a better way. Great care is now taken to see to the physical 
fitness of officers selected, and of those returning to duty. 
But the chief cause to which the staff owe their improved 
conditions is the material prosperity of the colonies. The 
Secretary of State has no longer to persuade the Treasury, 
and can afford to approve of adequate housing, improved 
sanitation, and means of recreation, and even to contemplate 
the creation of a local sanatarium, since the colony, and not 
the Treasury, pays the cost. 

A brief word as to what is needed. The diseases of tropical 
Africa are comparatively few — ^blackwater, malaria, dysentery, 
and ansemia are the principal ones. Lung diseases, enteritis, 
cholera are rare or unknown among Europeans. We have now 
in the African tropics a most efficient Medical Service, and, 
generally speaking, excellent hospitals, with an adequate 
nursing staff. To the skiU of the doctors, and to the im- 
provements they have effected in sanitation, &c., it is due 
that the returns of deaths and invaUdings show such a won- 
derful decrease. It is time that the Governments in West 
Africa considered the feasibility of providing a sanatarium in 

1 ' The Making of Nigeria,' Capt. Orr, pp. 77 and 140. 


the higMands, where men who are nm down and need rest 
might recuperate. One of the minor worries of African life 
is the servant — especially the cook — difficulty. The sana- 
tarium should therefore possess an hotel, where a man could 
stay at a reasonable cost. Various forms of recreation are 

It is indeed weU worth the while of Government to encourage 
the formation of recreation clubs at every centre, by pro- 
viding ground, and even by financial support at their incep- 
tion. They should soon become self-supporting, under the 
management of local committees. Polo, tennis, golf, cricket, 
and even football have each their votaries, and Government 
might build a racquet (or squash-racquet) court at each large 
centre, as in India. A club-room, with a library, newspapers, 
and even a biUiard-table, would add much to the amenities 
of life, and promote healthy intercourse between officials and 

So much has been written, and such admirable practical 
results have been obtained by the medical staff, in matters 
which come within the field of their endeavours, that notes 
which I had put together some years ago are now quite out 
of date. A few brief comments — ^the result of long tropical 
experience — may, however, be of some use, albeit from a 
layman. District OflBcers are not infrequently found to 
prefer a well-made native hut to a European-built house. 
It is cool and roomy, and if provided with properly-made 
doors and windows to exclude wind and rain, it is not un- 
attractive. The preference should, I think, be discouraged. 
The thatch, though cool, becomes soaked with moisture in 
the rains, which is driven inwards, through decomposing 
matter, by the heat of the sun. The mud floor is unhealthy, 
and, like the roof, favours rats, scorpions, centipedes, white 
ants, and other unwelcome visitors. The darkness, especially 
in the apex of the conical roof, harbours mosquitoes. Nor 
is it an economical policy — apart from questions of health 
and comfort, — ^for the annual renewals, added to the com- 
pensation allowance, are more costly than the erection of 
permanent houses. 

The style of house best suited to the tropics is a matter 
of much controversy and prohflc experiment. My own view 
is that houses should, when possible, be built with an upper 
storey, which should contain the hving, and especially the 



sleeping rooms, the ground-floor being used for dining-rooms, 
office, and stores. The practice common with commercial 
firms, of housing their employees in rooms buHt oyer produce- 
stores is, however, to be deprecated, for the effluvia cannot 
be conducive to health. The tendency to enlarge the verandah, 
close it in, and use it as the living and sleeping portion of 
the house, tends to make the interior rooms dark and imin- 
viting. Its light roof is often insufficient protection from the 
sun. Floors should be covered with linoleum, which is easily 
washed, and prevents smeUs and draughts ascending through 
a boarded floor. The houses should be oriented, so that the 
sun passing over from end to end, as nearly as may be through- 
out the year, does not render the front and back verandahs 
alternately untenable. Windows should be low, and doors 
half -glazed. 

The space between the ce ilin g and the apex of a sheet- 
iron roof in the tropics becomes fiUed with hot air during 
the day, and ventilators in the ceiling only increase the 
temperature of the room. VentUation should be secured by 
open windows and doors, and by gauze-netting — or gratings 
in a masonry house — around the outer walls near the ceiling. 
Tiles are the best and coolest roofing material, and if locally 
made have been found to be not appreciably more costly 
than corrugated-iron sheeting, even though the framework of 
the roof must be strengthened to carry their weight. For 
wooden houses, corrugated iron or asbestos sheeting (uraUte) 
laid on match-boarding is probably the best. Houses which 
have only a ground-flour should be raised above the sur- 
rounding level. If of wood, they should be built on masonry 
or iron pillars, 2 ft. from the ground. The eaves should 
descend to within 5 ft. 6 in. of the floor-level. Pitch-tar or 
siderothen paint is invaluable for preventing the access of 
white ants to any part of the wooden structure of a house. 

The heat of a house in the tropics is caused, not so much 
by the direct rays of the sun, as by radiation from the ground. 
Some therefore prefer to break the back of the roof at the 
edge of the verandah, and extend it for a few feet, at a very 
gentle slope, supported by uprights outside the house. Of 
aU vermin in the tropics, the most oilensive and insanitary 
are bats. They will enter a building by incredibly small 
orifices, and establish themselves in the roof, or between the 
weather and match-boarding, and their odour is repulsive. 


Particular care must therefore be taken to close every crevice, 
and protect every grating by wire-gauze. 

The house should not be surrounded by so many trees as 
to exclude the breeze and Ught. Vegetation which harbours 
mosquitoes should not be allowed near to it. Compounds or 
gardens should not be too large, and the servants' quarters 
must be as distant as possible. Township by-laws wiU 
regulate the erection of private houses, so that they may con- 
form to a reasonable standard for health and general amenity. 

Mosquito-proof sleeping cubicles of copper-gauze are now 
much in vogue, but they have the disadvantage that mos- 
quitoes which have gained access by the inevitable careless- 
ness of servants are not as easily detected, or dislodged, as 
in an ordinary mosquito-net. They also exclude the air. 
Duplicate gauze windows and doors in an ordinary living- 
room are in my experience excellent. They can be closed 
in the evening, admit air, and exclude flies as well as mos- 
quitoes, and temper too violent a breeze. Common-sense 
dictates that dark-coloured clothes which harbour mosquitoes 
should be kept folded up, and not hung on the waUs, and 
that the mosquito-net should be carefully examined and well 
tucked in before going to sleep. 

The purity of the water-supply — a matter of vital import- 
ance to health — ^is, of course, a question to which the medical 
staff devotes unremitting attention. There is no need, there- 
fore, for me to dwell here on the desirability of a pipe-borne 
supply from an uncontaminated source ; on the necessity of 
eliminating native villages from proximity to a stream which 
supplies the township ; of drawing off the surface water 
(which contains most larvae, &c.), and keeping reservoirs 
stocked with fish ; of boiling drinking-water and using good 
filters ; of protecting wells by a curb, and using a pump to 
draw the water ; of preventing the sinking of weUs near con- 
taminated ground ; of detaching pipes from rain-water tanks 
till the first showers have cleansed the roofs, and allowing 
feed-pipes to empty into a gauze bucket to prevent the ingress 
of lizards, &c. — ^for these are now well-established customs.^ 

1 A writer in the ' Pioneer Mail' (Srd February 1905) advocates the sterilisation 
of water by chemicals in preference to filtration or boiling, since the latter are 
often neglected for lack of vessels or time, and are suitable for stations, but not 
for troops on the march. Permanganate of potash is not effective. Sulphate of 
copper has not been fully tested. He advocates the passing through the water of 
chlorine gas, " liquefied and stored in little cylinders like those used for carbonic 


But it may be worth while to mention that in the early years 
in Northern Nigeria we practically eliminated dysentery from 
many centres by the use of portable condensers burning wood 
fuel. These were procured through the Crown agents, and 
are invaluable in isolated stations with a bad water-supply. 
They are simple, and can be managed by a native, and trans- 
ported by two carriers.^ 

The question of the segregation of Europeans and natives 
is one which merits a word here. We have learnt that malarial 
germs — and at times those of yellow-fever also — are present 
in the blood of most natives, especially of native children, and 
their dark huts and insanitary surroundings foster mosquitoes, 
by which these diseases are conveyed. Doctors, therefore, 
urge that Europeans should not sleep in proximity to natives, 
in order to avoid infection. 

We do not go to Africa for our health, and every other 
consideration must give way to the discharge of duties, which 
iQ some cases — such as the headmaster of a school, the keeper 
of a prison, missionaries, and others — must of necessity ren- 
der the observance of this rule impossible. But where segre- 
gation is compatible with work and duty, commercial firms, 
no less than the Government, incur a moral responsibility not 
to expose their employees to infection which can be avoided. 

With this object in view, new townships are divided into 
European and native reservations, separated by a non- 
residential area 440 yards ia breadth, cleared of high grass 
and scrub. Europeans are not allowed to sleep in the native re- 
servation, and natives, other than domestic servants and other 
necessary employees, may not reside in the European quarter. 

The belt of clear groimd which intervenes between the 
two quarters forms an effective fire-guard from bush-fires, 
and the conflagrations, so frequent in the dry zone, of the 
inflammable huts and enclosures of the natives,^ which also 
harbour rats and other vermin. It may be used for recrea- 
tion and parade grounds, railway and public works depart- 

aoid for soda-water, with a, tube attached, liberating only one gramme at a time." 
The chlorine kills every species of germ in thirty minutes, and by adding sulphate 
of soda the taste is removed. A 5-lb. cylinder will sterilise 111,944 gallons at 
a cost of Id. per 1000 gallons. 

1 Condensed water was discarded in the Philippines as lacking the natural 
salts. Artesian water was there obtainable. — Elliott, loc. cU., p. 204. 

2 The serious fire which occurred in the Niger Company's premises at Burutu, 
with a loss of some half-million sterling, due, it is believed, to natives cooking 
over an open fire, is a case in point. 


ment yards, cemeteries, &c., and even for buildings in which 
Europeans or natives do not sleep, provided that they do 
not form connecting links for the spread of fire, or resting- 
places for mosqmtoes. They should for this reason never 
be allowed on the side on which the native reservation is 
located. In old townships these principles can only be in- 
troduced very gradually ; and in order to avoid difficulties 
in the future, much care and foresight must be exercised 
when granting long leases in places which may eventually 
expand into a township. Europeans should never be per- 
mitted to reside in a native city, or close to but outside a 

Such in brief is " the poUcy of segregation " ^ which Lord 
Milner considers to be desirable no less in the interests of 
social comfort and convenience than in those of health and 
sanitation.^ It is obviously applicable only to large centres 
of population, and since Europeans and natives must neces- 
sarily be in close association during the day-time, it affords 
at best a very partial safeguard against insect-borne diseases, 
for which the only real cure is the extermination of the 
mosquito — or the rats which harbour the plague-flea — alike 
in the native as ia the European quarter, and the isolation 
of persons suffering from insect-borne diseases. 

The policy has given rise to bitter controversy, and the 
allegation by both British Indians and Africans that it is 
merely a manifestation of racial arrogance and prejudice.^ 
This is, I think, in part due to a misapprehension, in part to 
an attempt to carry the policy to extremes. On the one hand 
the policy does not impose any restriction on one race which 
is not appUcable to the other. A European is as strictly 
prohibited from living in the native reservation, as a native 
is from living in the European quarter. 

^ The members of the African section of the Manchester Chamber of Com- 
merce declare that they are, " without exception, strongly in favour of the 
principle of the segregation of Europeans ; but they stipulated (a) that the 
area proposed to be assigned to Europeans should be officially declared, and not 
subject to alteration, with a view to avoiding the erection of buildings which 
would become useless by a change of boundaries ; and (6) that there should be 
no compulsion, and one or more Europeans should be allowed to sleep on the 
business premises as a guard against burglary." — Letter to Colonial Office, 
6th May 1921. The latter proposal is open to the objection that it accords to 
Europeans an exemption denied to Africans. 

2 Debate of 14th July 1920. 

^ See the presidential address by Mr Jewanjee at the Indian Congress, 
Mombasa, 11th December 1920, and Indian and African press passim. 


On the other hand, since this feeling exists, it should in 
my opinion be made abundantly clear that what is aimed 
at is a segregation of social standards, and not a segregation 
of races. The Indian or African gentleman who adopts the 
higher standard of civilisation and desires to partake in such 
immunity from infection as segregation may convey, should 
be as free and welcome to live in the civilised reservation as 
the European, provided, of course, that he does not bring 
with him a concourse of followers. The native peasant often 
shares his hut with his goat, or sheep, or fowls. He loves to 
drum and dance at night, which deprives the European of 
sleep. He is sceptical of mosquito theories. " God made 
the mosquito larvse," said a Moslem deputation to me ; " for 
God's sake let the larvae Uve." For these people sanitary 
rules are necessary but hateful. They have no desire to 
abolish segregation. 

In order that there may be no legitimate ground for alleg- 
ing that public money is unduly spent on the " European " 
quarter, separate rates should be levied in each reservation, 
and spent wholly on the quarter from which they accrue, 
whUe any grant from public revenue to the township should 
be spent impartially on both. 

Improvement in the quality of food in the tropics is a 
matter of great importance for health and efficiency. Meat 
(including fowls) is generally tough and tasteless, and, like 
tinned foods, is deficient in nutritive qualities, while vege- 
tables and fruit (except bananas) are rarely procurable. 
" Mutton clubs " in India, by feeding the animals weU — 
especially on grain — succeed in producing excellent meat, 
and the same system can be adopted in Africa, and extended 
to poultry, and the quality can be improved by crossing with 
imported stock. Vegetables can be raised in properly-tended 
gardens under municipal supervision, and sold to Europeans ; 
but raw salads should be avoided in the tropics. Gardens in 
the dry zone depend on irrigation, which can be effected by 
raising weU-water by windmills. The French have set us 
an example in the production of garden produce in Africa. 
" Cold storage " in West Africa, especially in the coast towns, 
now suppUes imported joiats, vegetables, and fruit, and is 
capable of extension to inland centres by railway. Above all, 
the need of training native cooks is a matter of such import- 
ance that it is well worth considering whether cookery classes 


could not be instituted as a special subject in Government 
schools. Mrs Euxton and Mrs Tew have rendered a great 
service by their admirable books on simple tropical cookery. 

Too much emphasis cannot, of course, be laid on the neces- 
sity of providing an adequate and weU- qualified Medical 
staff, with specialised training in the splendid schools of 
Tropical Medicine which now exist in this country for re- 
search work. Well-equipped laboratories for local research 
work — ^like the Wellcome Institute attached to the Gordon 
College at Khartum, and the smaller institutions in Nigeria 
and elsewhere — are doing increasingly valuable work, and 
demand every encouragement from the local Governments. 

It is to Mr Chamberlain's sympathetic foresight that we 
owe the creation of an adequate Medical Service in the tropics, 
the inauguration of Tropical Schools of Medicine, and, above 
all, the institution of hospital nurses. The Colonial Nursing 
Association, in which Mrs Chamberlain took a very promi- 
nent part, was formed in 1896 by private subscription, with 
the object of supplying trained nurses — a need which, I 
think, I was one of the fijst to advocate, for nursing sisters 
were unknown in Africa during my first eight or ten years' 
service there. The Gold Coast has recently appointed women 
doctors for the schools, to combat child diseases and mortaUty. 

The utility of the Medical department can be greatly 
increased by providing motor-cars or cycles for the doctors, 
as we found in Mgeria during the war, when the bulk of our 
medical staff was lent for war work elsewhere. By thus cover- 
ing long distances, even over the roughest of native roads, 
they are enabled to save many a life. The story of African 
development is fuU of deeds of self-devotion by doctors, who 
have travelled day and night under almost impossible condi- 
tions to save the life of a sick comrade in an isolated and 
distant post. 

It is primarily due to medical research, and to the zeal 
of medical officers, that the wonderful decrease in mortality 
among Europeans in West Africa is to be ascribed, though 
better conditions of Ufe, greater moderation in the use of 
alcohol, and other causes, have of course had their share in 
the result.^ Further decrease will no doubt result from the 

' Dr Sambon, Lecturer iu the London School of Tropical Medicine, in an 
interesting paper contributed to the Press ('West Africa,' 3rd August 1918), states 
that 100 years ago the mortality of white troops in West Africa was 1500 per 


improvement of sanitary conditions among the natives, and 
from the discovery of an effective treatment for the great 
scourges of blackwater fever and sleeping-sickness, — the case 
mortality of the former has already greatly decreased, and a 
cure for the latter appears to be in sight at last. The pro- 
vision of dentists is a further departure of the greatest possible 

I shall not here discuss at any length the debated question 
of private practice by medical officers in the Government 
service. Since there are but a few centres where an income 
can be made by this means, it is inevitable that there should 
be heart-burnings and friction in regard to the selection of 
officers for these posts. The salaries, pension, and promotion 
of Government medical officers should be sufficiently generous 
to attract good men, without such extraneous inducements ; 
and if the acceptance of any fee, except as consultant, were 
disallowed, the field would be left open to private practi- 
tioners, and Government medical officers woidd have more 
time to devote to research, and to free hospital and dis- 
pensary work among the natives. 

A few brief words to the newcomer to the tropics, before 
he has had time to acquire experience, or to benefit from 
the advice of the doctor, may be of use : — 

Wear light flannel next to the skin, and use a cummer- 
bund. Never be separated from your mosquito-net — a small 
one can be carried on the saddle, — and see that it is well tucked 
in at night, and that your feet or hands do not Ke against it 
while asleep. Wear some head-covering when under an in- 
sufficient roof or in a verandah, and on no account go into the 
sun without a hat, even for a moment. When marching on 
foot, wear thick wooUen socks and roomy boots. Bathe in 
warm water. Be moderate in eating and drinking ; always 
eat something before going to work,^ and eat frequently, but 
not largely at one time. Eat fresh food, even though un- 
appetising, in preference to tinned food. Obtain all the vege- 

mille ! The average for the quinquennial period ending 1917 appears to have 
been 9 "87 per mille for the Gold Coast, and 20*44 for Nigeria, in spite of war 
conditions. Dr Sambon looks forward to the time when the African tropics, 
like Panama, will be made colonisable by the conquest of parasitic diseases. 

^ Khatib Musa, who for forty years was Imam of the Mosque of Timbuktu, 
without a single day's illness, attributed his good health to the observance of 
three rules. "He never slept," he said, "exposed to the night air; he never 
missed anointing himself at night, and taking a hot bath in the morning ; and 
he never went out without breakfast." — ' Tropical Dependency,' p. 126. 


tables and fruit you can, but eat sparingly of uncooked salads. 
Boil aU drinking water and milk bought from the natives. 
Take five grains of quinine daily, preferably in liquid form — 
tabloids sometimes become so hard that they pass through 
the system without dissolving. If unavoidably exposed to 
mosquitoes, take an extra dose on alternate days for ten days. 
Personally, see to the cleanliness of all cooking utensils by 
frequent inspection. See that your clothes are not washed 
in water used for this purpose by natives. 

Turning to the native population, we need not be dis- 
heartened because, as I have said, the first impact of civilisa- 
tion has not brought with it all the alleviations and benefits 
which we had hoped. The discouraging reports of the Belgian 
Congo Commission,^ and of the East African Commis- 
sion,* Sir H. Belfield's assertion that the population of the 
Gold Coast is not increasing,^ and Sir E. Coryndon's report 
to the same effect as regards Uganda,* will, rightly used, point 
the way in which our efforts should be directed in the future, 
no less in the sphere of administrative action than iu that of 
technical research and medical treatment. In the one we 
shall learn to abstain from interference in the mode of life 
of the people, leaving them to work on their own land in their 
own way instead of as hirelings under conditions which do not 
suit them, or in places far distant from their natural climate 
and food. In the other, as Dr Sambon says, a very much 
larger staff is required to achieve adequate results. Vaccina- 
tion should be more widely extended. Bad water, lack of 
drains, open cesspools, iusanitary customs, such as burial 
in houses, overcrowding, and absence of sanitation in the 
cities, cause iofant enteritis and dysentery, with an appalling 

^ The Commission was constituted under the Belgian Congo Charter. It 
reports that the depopulation of that country is rapid and alarming ; that 
indigenous diseases, such as sleeping-sickness, have spread, and hitherto unknown 
diseases, such as tuberculosis, cerebro-spinal-meningitis, and typhoid, have been 
introduced ; that immorality and venereal disease have greatly increased, and 
the population has decreased by half. 

^ The report states that evidence given shows that 50 % of our native popula- 
tion are relatively incapable of physical exertion ; that pneumonia, malaria, yaws, 
syphilis, phthisis, and heart- weakness, as well as infant mortality, are of appal- 
lingly wide distribution. — P. 29. 

* Cd. 6278, p. 12. The population of the Sokoto province (Nigeria), on the 
other hand, is reported to have largely increased since 1893, — due, however, 
largely to immigration. 

•■ In several districts statistics show that 33 % of the children are still-born, in 
others that the population is decreasing — due to venereal disease. — 'United 
Empire,' June 1920, p. 396. 


infant mortality. The efforts made through the native 
administrations by the establishment of dispensaries in the 
cities, the provision of sanitary gangs (prisoners and others) 
under expert supervision, of incinerators, and of improved 
latrines, above all, of venereal hospitals and leper settlements, 
need to be made on a more extended scale, and with a larger 
medical staff and trained subordinates who can speak the 
native languages. 

On the other hand, in spite of inadequate resources in the 
earlier years, we can claim some successes. Loss of life by 
direct human agencies — tribal war, slave-raiding, witchcraft 
ordeals, and fetish practices — has Ibeen checked by adminis- 
trative action, while an enthusiastic Medical Service has been 
established which affords treatment to the people. In Nigeria 
— ^which I quote in illustration, solely because I have more 
personal knowledge of that country than of others — vaccina- 
tion, at first feared and disliked, is now, generally speaking, 
popular. The advanced " native administrations," which 
I shall presently describe, are showing increased apprecia- 
tion of sanitation, and are establishing dispensaries supported 
by native funds. They have taken up the cause of the leper 
outcasts. When I left Nigeria the single asylum in Bornu 
had 534 lepers, and a venereal hospital had been established. 
In Sokoto, where leprosy is most rife, there has been a notable 
decrease, the cause of which is obscure, but probably due to 
better conditions of life — ^from 5 per miUe in 1910 to 3' 7 in 
1916, and in the Gando division from 4-2 in 1911 to '56 ; lUo, 
3'14 to 1*14. A similar decrease in the number of blind is 
reported — from 6 and 7-6 per mille in two districts in 1911 to 
1'2 and 1-9 respectively. The injection of chambuga-oU for 
leprosy appears to promise success, and a definite policy for 
leper settlements has received legislative sanction. 




The demand for reform — The constitution of the Colonial Office — The 
Secretary of State — The Parliamentary Under-Secretary — The per- 
manent Under-Secretary and staff — The work of the Colonial Office — 
Results of congestion — Lord Elgin's reorganisation — Relations of the 
Colonial Office with the colonies — Grounds of dissatisfaction — Inter- 
vention by the Office — The Office view — Treasury control — The func- 
tion of the Colonial Office— Results of the system — Ability of Colonial 
Office officials — Government by departments— Suggested palliatives — 
A second Under-Secretary — Sir C. Bruce's scheme — Alternative 
schemes — Direct responsibility of Under-Secretary — A Director of 
Protectorates — Committees and Councils — Standing Committees — 
Councils — The Indian Council — Contrast with the Colonial Secretary. 

Theee has been for many years past a consistent complaint 
that the Colonial Office needs reform and adaptation to 
modern requirements. Several leading statesmen have fore- 
shadowed changes/ and many of the principal newspapers 
and monthly journals have published articles with the object 
of demonstrating its deficiencies — its delays, its unnecessary 
interferences, and what not, — as exemplified in some par- 
ticular matter or some particular colony ; but few have made 
any definite constructive proposals, viewing the subject as 
a whole. 

I propose in this chapter to discuss the grounds of some 

' Lord Selborne and Lord Emmott, both of them former Under-Secretaries 
at the Colonial Office, may be cited. The former says : " The Colonial Office, 
excellent as the work of that department has always been within my personal 
knowledge, has never been modelled to meet the conditions that are growing up 
in West Africa in the way that the India Office, for instance, was modelled to 
meet the conditions in India ; and I suggest that we are on the eve ... of 
political developments in connection with West Africa, as well as commercial 
developments."— Speech of 14th July 1917. 

Lord Emmott says: "There must be, owing to this war, an enormous in- 
crease in the responsibilities and work of the Colonial Office, and with this there 
must be an increase of hberty so far as the colonies and protectorates which are 
governed by us are concerned." — Speech, July 1919. 


of these complaints, and to offer, with much diffidence, some 
suggestions which may possibly form a basis for discussion 
and reform. 

Through the Press and Eeuter the public is made aware 
of what happens in the most distant colonies, and the Secretary 
of State is expected by Parliament to be conversant with their 
affairs almost from day to day. With their growing import- 
ance the office of Colonial Secretary has become one of the 
most important in the State, to be held by a Minister whose 
position in Parliament and in the Cabinet makes heavy de- 
mands on his time, wholly unconnected with the duties of 
his office. He comes to it generally ignorant of the problems 
of most, if not all, of the colonies, and holds office for only 
a brief period. Since Mr Chamberlain's time the average 
tenure has been only two and a half years. 

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary is the representative 
of the Colonial Office in the House in which the Secretary of 
State does not sit. He defends the policy of his chief, and 
answers questions. He vacates his post on a change of Gov- 
ernment, and may at any time do so on promotion. The 
average tenure of the post in the same period has been less 
than two years. He can caU for any papers in the Office and 
minute upon them, and if so authorised by the Secretary of 
State, may deal finally in his name with the less important 
ones. He receives deputations, and acts as chairman of many 
committees. His energy is usually unbounded, and he forms 
a link between the department and the public. As most of 
the questions with which Parliament expects him to be 
familiar are new to him, his task is no light one ; but the 
business of the Office goes on, whether he participates in it 
to a greater or a less degree. 

The permanent staff of the Colonial Office consists of one 
Under-Secretary and four Assistant Under-Secretaries of 
State — one for the Dominions, one as "Accounting Officer," 
and two for the Crown colonies. The two latter are in charge 
of the five departments into which the Crown colonies are 
grouped, for office purposes. Each group is under the charge 
of a "principal clerk." ^ Papers on aU subjects for sub- 

1 See Colonial OflBce Liat, pp. xv.-xviii. The latest issue shows the "Account- 
ing Officer" and "Dominions" combined, and the fourth Assistant Under- 
Secretary as seconded from the India Office for Mesopotamia, Palestine, and 
Arab areas. 


mission to the Secretary of State pass through the permanent 
Under-Secretary, who is his chief adviser, and acts in his 
name in any matters to which he is not personally able to 
attend. He deals with the diverse affairs of a couple of score 
of Dominions, colonies, protectorates, and Mandate terri- 
tories ; the representations of merchants, shipowners, and 
mine-owners ; Imperial and other conferences and deputa- 
tions ; Parliamentary and Treasury questions ; and a thou- 
sand other matters. He has, as one of them said to me, no 
time at all to tJiink. 

Since the Colonial Office was set up as a separate depart- 
ment in 1825 — ^ninety-six years ago — the post of permanent 
Under-Secretary has only been held for an aggregate of 
eighteen years by promotion from the office itself, pro- 
bably in order that its head may bring to his task a wider 
view than a lifelong training in the department would 

Alm ost the whole of British tropical Africa is the creation 
of the past three decades, for prior to 1890 it consisted chiefly 
of small enclaves on the West Coast. The work of the Colonial 
Office was, of course, greatly increased when, some fifteen 
years ago, it took over the control of the African Protectorates 
from the Foreign Office. Prom that time to the present day 
expansion has been extremely rapid, and of late the territory 
held under Mandate has been added, including Palestine 
and Mesopotamia. 

The increase of work is, however, due not merely, or even 
primarily, to territorial expansion, but rather to the in- 
creasing diversity and complexity of the problems arising 
from the development of the material resources of these 
dependencies by railways (which have facilitated the ex- 
ploitation of vegetable and mineral products, with the con- 
sequent influx of merchants and miners), the progress in 
medical and sanitary methods, the increase in British staff, 
and to a less degree the problems of native administration. 
The improvement ia ocean and cable services has caused a 
more rapid turnover of busiaess. Even a dozen years ago it 
was estimated that the correspondence had already increased 
four or five times in volume. The expansion of the depart- 
ment of the Crown agents, who transact the purely business 
requirements of the colonies, is typical. When I joined the 
Colonial Service they occupied a few rooms on the ground 


floor in Downing Street, but they now find it necessary to 
occupy a spacious block of buildings of their own. 

It is clear that in these circumstances the Secretary of 
State must delegate some of his functions, or that all except 
the most important questions must be dealt with in his 
name by the permanent officials. It is equally clear that the 
work devolving upon the permanent Under-Secretary cannot 
be dealt with by a single man, however able and industrious, 
and that much must be left to the two assistants. These in 
turn are compelled to relegate much of their proper work 
to the clerks in charge of departments, who moreover are 
called upon to attend many committees, and devote much 
of their time to the endeavour to condense into minutes and 
precis for their seniors the contents of despatches on important 
questions which should be read in original. It is hardly 
surprising that the result gives rise to much dissatisfaction 
among the more zealous servants of the Crown in the colonies, 
the extent of which is probably unknown to the Secretary of 

In response to a Eesolution adopted at the Imperial Con- 
ference in May 1907, Lord Elgin " reorganised " the Colonial 
Office. Under his scheme it was to consist of three depart- 
ments, styled respectively " the Dominions," " the Crown 
Colony " (political and administrative), and " the General " 
Department ; the latter included matters common to all the 
Crown colonies (currency, banking, posts and telegraphs, 
education, medical, pensions, &c.) The Crown Colony De- 
partment was divided into four geographical " Divisions," 
supplemented by four Standing Committees on patronage 
and promotion, railway and finance, concessions, and pen- 
sions. A single Under-Secretary remained as " the permanent 
head of the whole Office, and the principal adviser to the 
Secretary of State." Of the four Assistant Under-Secretaries, 
two were assigned to the Dominions, and one each to the other 
two departments.^ This scheme was later modified in the way 
I have explained. 

The object of this rearrangement was not to lighten the 

1 Sir Charles Bruce writes : " Seventy years ago, Sir H. Taylor, speaking with 
intimate knowledge from within, declared that the far greater proportion of the 
duties performed in the Office were performed under no effective responsibility. 
The whole history of the Office is a record of conflicts with the ablest, and even 
the most trusted of Governors." — 'Broad Stone of Empire,' p. 182. 

2 Cd. 3795, 1907, p. 4. 


burden on the Secretary of State and the permanent Under- 
Secretary by judicious delegation, but primarily to satisfy 
the Dominions, at whose instance it was undertaken, by 
assigning to them " a distinct division " of the Office, and 
facilitating the work of the Conferences. In point of fact, 
it would seem to have actually increased the congestion in 
the Crown colony branch, while the senior Assistant Under- 
Secretary for the Dominions had apparently little to do, 
and left England for a prolonged tour in them. The time is 
probably not distant when the Dominions branch at the 
Colonial Office will be transferred elsewhere.^ 

When Mr Chamberlain took oflBce in 1895, " Downing 
Street " was not popular. The criticism was, no doubt, 
chiefly expressed by the self-governing colonies, for the 
Crown colonies were then even less vocal than now. When 
he left office a remarkable change had taken place ; but 
it is impossible to talk with senior officials of the different 
colonies to-day without noting the recrudescence of the 
critical feeling. The cause of their dissatisfaction may be 
exaggerated, but it is none the less subversive of that cordial 
co-operation which should animate the two branches of a 
service engaged in a common task, for which both are spend- 
ing themselves freely — ^not for reward, but for the sake of 
the work. I trust that in scrutinising the grounds for this dis- 
satisfaction and in venturing to put forward some suggestions, 
I may be credited with the sole desire to promote the best 
interests of the Empire. 

The dissatisfaction arises, I think, mainly from three alleged 
causes : — 

(a) First, that the considered recommendations of the 
Governor and his expert advisers (which necessarily embody 
the best local opinion) are overruled in important matters by 
the senior Colonial Office officials, and in less important matters 
by juniors, whose decisions are recorded over the lithographed 
signature of the Secretary of State, against which there is no 

(6) Secondly, that the Colonial Office shows an increasing 

' The task of preparation for the Imperial Conferences is heavy, but the direct 
work with the Dominions concerns the Premier, the Foreign OiEce, the War 
Office, the Admiralty, the India Office, and the Board of Trade, equally with the 
Colonial Office — viz., treaties with foreign States, defence by sea and land, alien 
immigration, trade and Imperial preference, emigration, shipping rings, patents 
and similar matters. 


tendency to interfere in matters of detail in internal adminis- 
tration — an interference which is largely attributed to junior 
officials, — with consequent delay in those other matters which 
properly fall withia its duties. This delay is prejudicial to 
the interests of the colonies, and complained of by both 
officials in the colonies and by business men. 

(c) Thirdly, that the Colonial Office lacks that element 
of actual administrative experience which would understand 
and sympathise with the difficulties of the man on the spot, 
and that the Secretary of State and his office are out of touch 
with the local administrations. 

There seems to be no doubt that there exists at present a 
widespread feeUng that there is a great deal of imnecessary 
interference from Whitehall in the sphere of actual administra- 
tion — ^which under the Eoyal Letters Patent is the function 
of the Governor, — thereby increasing the work of the Colonial 
Office, while delaying and impeding the task of government 
in the colonies, and creating unnecessary friction — due, it is 
alleged, to " the deplorable system of goverimient by junior 

Sir A. Hemming, in a letter to the ' Times,' ^ claims to 
write with thirty years' experience in the Colonial Office, 
where he was head of the West African Department, and 
later as Governor of two Crown colonies. " A great por- 
tion of the work," he says, "has been entrusted to junior 
officials. These men have not and cannot have the experi- 
ence and knowledge required for such duties, and it is natu- 
rally galling to high officials in the colonies to know that their 
suggestions are criticised by youths almost fresh from school 
or college, and their mature and weU-weighed advice possibly 
rejected on the recommendation of these embryo statesmen. 
That the bulk of the work in the Colonial Office is done well 
and conscientiously I should be the last to deny ; but the 
pressure on the seniors, and especially on the Under-Secretary 
of State, is too great, and the junior clerks consequently 
obtain a much larger portion of authority and control than 
their position properly justifies." ^ 

1 ' Times,' 26th December 1905. 

^ Sir Charles Bruce (who, after long colonial service, was Governor of the 
Windward Islands and of Mauritius) goes even further. The passage is too long 
to quote in extenso. He argues that the Secretary of State is not informed 
of all that is going on in his own office, and " must only know what it is good for 
him to know, . . . the tradition was upheld in the Colonial Office for many years, 


The Oflace, it is said, iatervenes in every detail of economic 
development and of administrative policy. It demands ex- 
haustive reports — ^tavolving iaterminable despatch- writing — 
on matters often of trivial importance, and its sanction is 
necessary for imbudgeted expenditure, however petty. Some- 
times, says Sir C. Bruce (and I can corroborate it from my 
own experience), a decision well adapted to the colony in 
which it was evolved is offered in substitution of carefully- 
considered proposals, as a solution of a problem where the 
conditions render it merely "grotesque." Consequential 
delay and apparent vacillation — perhaps for over a year — 
before a scheme is eventually carried out with little if any 
change, is placed by critics to the discredit of the local Govern- 
ment, and is heart-breaking to those on the spot. 

That this criticism does not origiaate merely from the 
impatience of local officials and "prancing pro-Consuls" 
may be seen from the opinion expressed in the House of Lords 
by the late Lord Salisbury : " I do not think," he said, " that 
our government is of much advantage to the Englishmen who 
go into a new country. Almost everythiag that is done at 
home is apt to hinder them ; and though we have officers 
unparalleled in the world, they come generally with their 
hands tied to their sides with red tape, and beside them sits 
the spirit of the Treasury, like care Ibelund the horseman, 
which paralyses every effort, and casts a shadow on any 
enthusiasm they may feel. I do not think Governments aid 
our people much when they go into the possession of a new 
territory." ^ 

The officer selected for the responsible post of Governor, 
especially when he has acquired long local experience, is 

during which grave inconvenience to the public service was caused by circum- 
stances known to every member of the Office except the Secretary of State. . . . 
The Office must decide to a large extent on what questions they may act without 
his direct authority under cover of his constitutional responsibility, . . . but 
the tradition is prolonged into a wider area of activity when the Office claims, 
as it does, a rigidly exclusive monopoly of access to the Minister either by docu- 
mentary or personal communication." He explains, with emphasis, that he 
intends no reflection on the personal ability of the permanent officials, and 
quotes Sir F. Swettenham's panegyric on the admirable ability and efficiency of 
their work — the patient care with which each question is examined, and the 
anxiety to be just in every case, — a description in which I think all who have 
knowledge will concur. " What was deprecated was a system which placed in 
the hands of a group of officials, living in the artificial atmosphere of a public 
office in the centre of the Empire, absolute control over the destinies of com- 
munities" living far away. — 'Broad Stone of Empire,' pp. 196-99. 
' House of Lords debate of 14th February 1895. 



justified in expecting to be trusted to decide (with the aid, 
if necessary, of his Legislative and Executive Councils and 
departmental advisers) such matters as the incremental pay 
of a foreman of works, the promotion of very junior officers, 
the engagement of a mechanic on some small increase of pay 
in special circumstances, the writing off of small sums of 
public money after full investigation by a committee and re- 
vision by the Council, the amount of baggage which an officer 
may carry free by local raU, or to take appropriate measures 
in similar questions of a purely admiaistrative and local nature 
in Africa. Or at most it should suffice to caU his attention 
to any apparent inconsistency, of which the Office may 
become aware — for it is, of course, well understood that such 
matters are dealt with by juniors. In some cases it is alleged 
that the Office has even xmdertaken the drafting of local 
ordinances, and drawn up departmental regulations, with 
the aid of subordinate colonial officers, for the Governor to 
enact. A case is quoted in which the clerk in charge of a 
department averred that a particular colony had for years 
been administered from his room and not by the local Governor. 

In larger questions which do reach the Secretary of State, 
the Governor in Council may find his recommendations 
overruled, without opportunity of personal explanation. For 
the advice tendered to the Minister is " the office view," 
limited by tradition and precedent, and uninformed by 
personal experience. A strong Secretary of State like Mr 
Chamberlain (whose office nickname was " Our Master ") 
will exercise an independent judgment so far as time permits 
of his studying the matter. A weaker, or an overpressed, or 
less industrious Minister may allow the office view to pre- 
vail, and be transmitted to the colony, justified and elaborated 
by its exponent, over the signature of the Secretary of State, 
whose decision must be loyally accepted.^ By the fine tradi- 
tion of British statesmanship, the mistakes of the permanent 
officials — if they make any — are accepted by the Secretary 
of State as his own, to be defended before Parliament with 
all the influence and ability at his command. 

If a protectorate is dependent on a grant, Colonial Office 

^ "Every Secretary of State, however well-intentioned, energetic, and capable, 
is likely, sooner or later, to become the medium, conscious or unconscious, 
through which the permanent heads of the Office carry out their policy, . . . able 
and trusted, but necessarily academic advisers." — Bruce, loc. cit., p. 200. 


supervision is supplemented by Treasury control, which, says 
the ' Times,' " largely consists in interference in technical 
detail, refusing an extra draughtsman or a subordinate clerk, 
and generally hampering and exasperating the responsible 
administrator. It is this form of control in the past that has 
kUled aU sense of financial conscience in the public service." 
The Oflace then experiences something of the exasperation 
which its own methods are apt to produce in the local Govern- 
ment, when the responsible Administrator feels inclined to 
exclaim with Job, " No doubt but ye are the people, and 
all wisdom shall die with you, but I have understanding as 
well as you." 

That the function of the Colonial OfQce is not creative or 
initiative — still less administrative — was a principle affirmed 
by Mr Chamberlain — a limitation ignored in the public pro- 
nouncements of several of his successors. Lord Onslow, his 
Under-Secretary (than whom the men on the spot have never 
had a more appreciative and generous supporter), stated that 
it was Mr Chamberlain's settled policy never to interfere with 
the decision of the policy of the Governor. All they asked for 
at the Colonial OflBice in return was that they should be kept 
fully informed of what the man on the spot intended to do, 
and what he advised the Government to do.^ J. S. Mill thus 
formulates the principle in regard to India : " The Executive 
Government of India is, and must be, seated in India itself. 
The principal function of the Home Government is not to 
direct the details of administration, but to scrutinise and 
review the past acts of Indian Governments ; to lay down 
principles and issue general instructions for their future 
guidance, and to give or refuse sanction to great political 
measures, which are referred home for approval." The 
Foreign OflBce apparently acts on this principle, for a recent 

^ 'African Society's Journal,' March 1907. The distinguishing characteristic 
of ]tfr Chamberlain as Colonial Secretary, which rendered possible the great 
development which took place during his eight years of office, and endeared him 
to those who served under him, was the trust he placed in his Governors and the 
latitude he allowed to those in whom he had confidence. The present Secretary 
of State (Mr Churchill), in his speech at the Corona Club in June 1921, alluded 
to Mr Chamberlain's success in inspiring co-operation and loyal comradeship, and 
himself struck the same note. " The Colonial service (he said) must be a self- 
reliant service, because its representative is constantly confronted with the 
problems on the spot, and must have the initiative and resolution and the 
conviction to decide upon the necessary action, and to take it when the decision 
has to be made. It would not be possible to govern the British Empire from 
Downing Street, and we do not try." 


inquiry regarding the Sudan elicited the response that the 
Home Government is not concerned with the details of its 
administration since the country is self-supporting and 
manages its own affairs, the Home Government being only 
concerned with such important questions as may be referred 
to it. 

The effect of unnecessary intervention in administrative 
affairs is to dishearten the higher ranks and to weaken their 
sense of responsibility, while engendering in the lower ranks 
a feeling that it is not to the Governor and his Council that 
they must look, but to an anonymous official at the Colonial 
Office. Delay and friction are inevitable. It does not suffice 
to say that these occasions of discontent are exaggerated, 
or even in some cases fanciful, so long as they exist. If the 
officials admitted their truth, they would no doubt regard 
such results as inherent in the discharge of their duties as 
" watch-dogs " — to quote a term recently used in a public 
speech by the Under-Secretary. Watch-dogs are employed 
to guard against an enemy, not against a partner in a joint 

I am anxious to emphasise the fact — as other critics have 
done — that it is the system that is criticised and not the 
individuals. 1 The individual officials have great experience, 
and uphold the traditions of a most honourable service. 
The seniors have grown grey in the study of Colonial affairs. 
They form an invaluable repository of knowledge and pre- 
cedent. It would be a crucial mistake to undervalue the 
benefit of their moderating counsels, and of their influence 
in preserving continuity and checking hasty changes by a 
new and inexperienced Governor. That their lifelong training 
in the Office should leave its mark upon them is inevitable. 
The guardian of continuity may sometimes be slow to recog- 
nise progress and reform, and ignorance of the local condi- 
tions may lead to false analogies and misapplication of pre- 
cedents. But all administrators alike have testified to the 
conscientious industiy and ability and high sense of honour 
which the officials of the Colonial Office bring to their task, 
and their desire to do the thing that is just. 

It has been said that " Government by Department is the 
worst of aU forms of Government," and it is permissible, 
alike for the British public and the colonies, to ask whether 

' See footnote, p. 161, 


in the interests of the Empire these high qualities are directed 
into the best possible channels, and whether the officials 
shoidd not bear a measure of public responsibility com- 
mensurate with the powers they exercise ; and to demand 
that the duties laid on them should be limited to what a 
man weighted with responsibility can reasonably discharge 
with efficiency. The public at large knows but little of the 
administration of the colonies. Even an officer like myself, 
who has served for twenty years in the highest office abroad, 
knows so little of the internal organisation and methods 
of the Colonial Office, that suggestions must of necessity 
be made with diffidence and reluctance. Officials iq harness 
may not speak, and those who have retired are glad to avoid 
controversy and seek rest and quiet. 

The causes of friction to which I have referred can never 
be wholly removed, for it is in the nature of things that 
dependent Governments should chafe at control, and that 
Home Departments shoidd exhibit a leaning towards bureau- 
cracy. There are, however, three ways in which I suggest 
that on the one hand the dissatisfaction of the Colonial Gov- 
ernments may be lessened, and on the other hand, the work 
devolving upon the Secretary of State and the permanent 
Under-Secretary may be so adjusted as to render its accom- 
plishment less impossible. 

(a) By duplicating, or even triplicating, the post of Under- 
Secretary, and delegating to the Under-Secretaries some public 
and personal measure of responsibility for their actions. 

(b) By creating a CouncU, or Councils, to advise and assist 
the Secretary of State in the discharge of his duties. 

(c) By giving a wider latitude — especially in matters of 
finance — to Governors, and by creating groups of Colonies 
under Governors-General. 

A combination of all three would no doubt be best. I will 
essay a few remarks on each. 

The volume of work at the Colonial Office has expanded 
like a bladder, but it has still to pass through a single narrow 
neck. It is suggested that there should be two permanent 
Under-Secretaries, as in the Treasury, mutually independent 
but acting in close co-operation, with independent access to 
the Secretary of State. The Office alone can judge how the 
duties could best be allocated between them. One might, 
perhaps, deal with the general work of the Office, and control 


its legal, financial, and other departments, and supervise the 
Mediterranean colonies with, or without the Eastern groups ; 
while the second would deal with the tropical dependencies, 
especially the large African groups, with or without those 
in the East and the West Indies. He would supply that 
closer touch demanded by the merchants interested, and would 
encourage enterprise, which, it is alleged, under present con- 
ditions has sometimes been driven to find other outlets ; and 
he would maintain close personal touch with the Governors 
and senior colonial oflficials when in England. ^ This would 
ensure that all matters, other than mere routine, which were 
not dealt with by the Secretary of State himself, would at 
least pass under review of the most responsible officer. The 
first Under-Secretary would probably be selected from the 
ranks of the Colonial Office, the second from among the 
Governors, with actual administrative experience in one or 
more colonies, and his tenure of the appointment might be 
limited to the period for which a Governorship is usually 
held (five or six years), though renewable at the discretion 
of the Secretary of State if he proved especially suited to 
the post, in order that accumulated experience might be 
available. Under such a regime. Governors would feel that 
their difficulties were in the hands of a man who could appre- 
ciate them from his own experience. There would thus be 
two well-organised channels of communication with the 
Secretary of State, each under responsible and experienced 
officers, with time to deal adequately with the various ques- 
tions, and to review the minutes of juniors.^ 

The appointment of a second Under-Secretary is preferable 

^ This suggestion was made by me to the Secretary of State in 1904. It was 
also made by Colonel Amery, writing in January 1908. — 'Union and Strength,' 
p. 283, and the ' Times,' 29th April 1908. The transfer to the Colonial Office 
of Mesopotamia, Palestine, Aden, and "Arab areas," which has been announced 
since these pages were written, would suggest the provision of a third Under- 
Secretary for the Eastern and Far Eastern dependencies. 

^ The existing system is thus trenchantly described by an " outside observer " 
(of whose identity I am unaware) in the ' Times ' of 28th August 1917 : "The 
permanent Under-Secretary is frankly and undisguisedly head of the whole 
concern ; his ability, his familiarity with precedents, his devotion to public 
interests, are all unquestioned. But his education has been purely literary, 
he has sat in the office since he left the university, ... in a word, he is an 
official and not a practical man." The functions of the political head of a 
Government department, he argues, seem to resemble fairly closely those of 
the chairman of a company — ' 'but in a Government department there is no 
general manager, no man that is trained in the actual practical conduct of 


to the alternative of each assistant Under-Secretary dealing 
direct with the Secretary of State, for this would result in 
" water-tight compartments," tend to divergence and lack 
of co-ordination, and render the position of the Under-Secre- 
tary anomalous and tadeed impossible. 

Sir C. Bruce suggests a division into " two branches, one 
dealing with questions of politics and adminLstration, the 
other with the development of the material resources of the 
colonies." The latter, he considers, lies " altogether outside 
the competence of the oflScials of the Colonial OfBce," and 
must be manned by men of the first scientific attainments. 
" Such an organisation," he adds, " would, of course, have 
to be carried out in detail, so as to put an end to the deplor- 
able, but apparently admitted system of government by 
junior clerks." ^ Those who have intimate inside knowledge 
can best decide whether such proposals are practicable from 
the Colonial Office standpoint ; but if the administrative 
affairs of each colony are to be dealt with by one branch, 
and its material development in another, it can easily be 
imagined that there would be many occasions for overlapping, 
duplication, and friction. Moreover, the consequential amal- 
gamation of the Colonial Office and the Crown agents would 
constitute a somewhat unwieldy machine, and the system 
proposed would probably result in a tendency to centraUse 
admroistration ta Colonial Office experts, and to usurp the 
duties and functions of the local Government. This is op- 
posed to the spirit of the times, and imposes on the Colonial 
Office a rdle of direct administration which, as Mr Chamber- 
lain said, is not its proper function. 

Others have poiated out that the present organisation 
on a purely geographical basis postulates a competency 
in the officials of each section to criticise aUke adminLstra- 
tion, finance, currency, railways, harbours, commercial 
questions, and every other problem of Government. The 
knowledge of each of these subjects displayed by officials 
is, they admit, surprisingly large, but it is purely critical 
and local. They suggest that an organisation according to 
subjects (though naturally subdivided geographically) on 
the lines of the War Office and Admiralty would produce 
" greater uniformity of policy, and a more helpful, active, 
and less purely critical attitude." They would amalgamate 
1 Loo. eit., pp. 187-188. 


the Crown Agent's Office with the Colonial Office, and the 
former would supply several of the branches. These might 
consist of administration, finance (including loans and cur- 
rency), and public works and development branches, the heads 
sitting together as a Colonial Office Departmental CouncU. 

But though the appointment of a second Under-Secretary 
would lighten the work of the present head of the Office, 
it would not reUeve the Secretary of State. His constitutional 
responsibility at present necessitates the use of his signature 
on every despatch, however routine and trivial, and its litho- 
graphed reproduction is evidence of how farcical its use has 
become. Would it not be feasible to introduce a measure of 
decentraUsation by allowing the two permanent Under-Secre- 
taries to deal, over their own signatures, with correspondence 
which does not demand reference to the Secretary of State ? 
For, as I said in chapter iv., decentralisation and delegation 
must be accompanied by public responsibility. The exercise 
of power without personal and public responsibility is the 
weakness of the present system. The anonymity conferred 
by the use of the Uthographed signature, and even the time- 
honoured fiction of being " directed to say that the matter 
has received the consideration of the Secretary of State," 
would disappear. The responsibility for that large class of 
correspondence, which it is well understood that the Secretary 
of State has never seen, would then frankly rest on the Under- 
Secretary, while mere routine papers could be signed by an 
Assistant Under-Secretary, and addressed to the Chief Secre- 
tary of the colony. If in any rare instance the Governor 
considered that a matter dealt with by the Under-Secretary 
should be laid before the Secretary of State, he would be at 
liberty to ask that this should be done. 

It may be argued that the Governor, as the King's repre- 
sentative, should take his instructions only from the King's 
Minister, and that the Under-Secretary is not his senior in 
rank and dignity. He would, however, be the delegate of 
the Minister (who is not himself a delegate but the repre- 
sentative of King and Parliament). In order to make this 
clear, and to avoid over-sensitive susceptibilities, the use 
of the first person might be avoided, and despatches (as in 
the Army) be signed " By Order." This proposal may appear 
to be of smaU moment, but I am convinced it would have 
a far-reaching effect. 


When the Foreign Office controlled the greater part of 
British tropical Africa, the post of "Director of African 
Protectorates " was created. His duties included personal 
visits to Africa.^ Were a second Under-Secretary appointed 
at the Colonial Office, it might be possible for him to make 
such occasional visits. It would, however, be necessary that 
his position vis-d-vis the Governor should be most clearly 
defined, in order to maintain that unchallenged responsi- 
bility of the King's representative abroad which, as we have 
seen, is "the basis of Crown colony Government." The 
object of his visit would be to study at first hand, with the 
friendly aid of the Governor, the local problems which could 
only be inadequately described in despatches, more especially 
in their relation to contiguous colonies and to the expressed 
views of the Secretary of State. He would explain what is 
being done in other colonies, and the opinion of the Secretary 
of State. He would not pose as one authorised to give orders 
or instructions, nor even as an adviser or critic, but as a 
learner. He would not advise or give pledges to either officials, 
unofficials, or native chiefs, or even interview them, except 
with the concurrence and generally in the presence of the 
Governor. Coming with the sole desire to acquire full informa- 
tion, with the object of making himself more efficient and 
his advice of greater value to the Secretary of State, his 
visits should prove very useful. If, on the other hand, he 
made any attempt "to go behind the Governor," to pose 
as a higher authority, or to collect ex parte evidence to support 
his own theories, he would probably find that the best in- 
formed were also the most loyal, and his information would 
be unreliable. I do not minim ise the delicacy of such a task, 
and I recognise that its utility is open to question unless it is 
discharged with the utmost tact. 

Mr Chamberlain even desired that the Secretary of State 
should himself visit the colonies, and did actually go to 
South Africa ; while Mr Churchill, as Parliamentary Under- 
Secretary, visited East Africa. In practice, however, this is 
not generally feasible, and even were it possible, the informa- 
tion thus acquired is lost on a change of Government. The 

1 According to Mr Colquhoun, the French in 1908 were considering a scheme 
by which a council of experienced ofBcials in Paris, aided by a body of inspectors 
(who were frequently to visit and report on the colonies), would be responsible 
for colonial affairs.— ' Morning Post,' 18th April 1908. Sir F. Swettenham ad- 
vocates this system. — 'Malaya,' p. 340. 


knowledge gained by a permanent Under-Secretary would 
be at the service of successive Secretaries of State. 

The advocates of the system of Colonial Office reorganisa- 
tion on War Office and Admiralty lines, which I have described 
in a previous paragraph, would carry their analogy further, 
and appoint an Inspector -General with a regular staff of 
subordinates, competent to inspect in each branch, and they 
express the view that such an organisation would strengthen 
the hands of a competent Governor. I think that there is 
little doubt but that the opposite would happen, and the 
Colonial Office would look to the Inspector-General rather 
than to the Governor, whose position would be almost un- 
tenable. It is essential to remember that the War Office 
and Admiralty are responsible for the direct administration 
of every detail of the Army and Navy. Tor the Colonial 
Office to assume such a rdle would be contrary to the traditions 
of the Empire, and I believe fatal to its prosperity. 

My second suggestion referred to the creation of a Council. 
It is obviously desirable that the Secretary of State — and 
also the Under-Secretaries — should have the best independent 
advice on matters of policy, especially when they concern 
more than one colony. Such advice may be obtained by 
means of ad hoc committees — appointed with definite terms 
of reference to inquire into some particular matter, and to 
take evidence from aU available sources — or by Standing 
Advisory Committees, or by a permanent Statutory Council. 

The Standing Committee is usually concerned with a 
technical subject, such as medical and sanitary matters, 
surveys, &c., and consists of experts whose opinion must 
carry the greatest possible weight. Such committees, how- 
ever, have serious drawbacks, and are not always satisfactory 
in operation, either to the Secretary of State or to the local 
Governments, of whose special and varying conditions they 
rarely have first-hand knowledge. They make large demands 
on the time of the permanent officials deputed to attend them 
as members or secretaries. 

Once appointed, they are apt gradually to acquire powers 
not originally intended. A member of one of them remarked 
to me on the tendency shown to deal with matters of local 
and minor detail, thus usurping the functions and duties of 
the departmental heads, who may occupy seats on the Colonial 
Executive and Legislative Councils, and be in close touch 


with the Government policy. Subordinate officers are apt to 
look to the Committee rather than to their own departmental 
chief or Governor — especially if promotion depends on its 
recommendation. Lack of identity with the colony in 
which they are serving, and departmental indiscipline, are 
the results. 

But perhaps an even more serious and inherent defect 
is that a committee of experts, without financial responsi- 
bility for the execution of their proposals, is almost bound by 
professional zeal to recommend counsels of perfection. " The 
tyranny of the expert " is the bugbear of the administrator, 
who has to balance the comparative urgency of many com- 
peting claims when framing his budget. 

" Government by Committee " shares with " Government 
by Departments " the distinction of being dubbed the worst 
of all possible forms of Government, and it was probably to 
such Standing Committees that Mr Bonar Law referred in 
his speech in the House on 15th and 22nd April 1915, when 
he expressed, amid cheers, his disbelief in committees. " If 
you wish to get something done, do not set up a committee, 
but tell somebody to do it, and entrust him with it. . . . All 
business must be done by an autocrat more or less. It could 
never be effectively done in any other way." 

A Council is a Statutory Standing Committee, and in 
some ways shares its defects. Its object is to place at the 
disposal of the Secretary of State the assistance of men of 
ripe experience, and sufficient leisure to study the problems 
presented to them. It may, like " the India Council," exer- 
cise important statutory functions, both in regard to legisla- 
tion and finance, or it may be purely advisory. 

The India Office is the only department of State to which 
we can turn for a working example of a Statutory Council, 
for the Boards of Trade, and of Agriculture, and the Local 
Government Board, in spite of their titles, possess no Boards. 
The Army Council and the Admiralty Board afford httle or 
no analogy, for they are, as I have pointed out, the actual 
working heads of the Army and Navy, and they are not Uke 
the India Office, concerned with the administration of terri- 
tories under their own local Governments overseas. 

The " Coimcil of India " is the descendant of the old East 
India Company's " Board of Control," and inherited some of 
its powers. It is the prototype of the Executive Council of 


the Governor of a colony. All orders emanated from the 
" Secretary of State in Council," thus establishing the prin- 
ciple of Executive control " in Council " as opposed to indi- 
vidual autocracy. " It was a consultative body without 
any power of initiative, and a very limited power of veto," 
but its consent was necessary in financial and some other 

Under Lord Morley its powers were greatly restricted, and 
what one Liberal statesman had begun, his successors, Lord 
Crewe and Mr Montagu, endeavoured to complete. By the 
Council of India BUI of 1914 (which was shelved by the war) 
the Secretary of State was empowered to transact business 
with the aid of individual members ; and Lord Crewe's 
Committee (9th July 1919) recommended its abolition, and 
the substitution of a purely Advisory Council in its place, in 
order " to establish the individual responsibility of the 
Secretary of State to Parliament " — ^in other words, com- 
plete autocracy. 

Thus the history of the India Council is that of a body 
vested originally with powers which curtailed those of the 
Secretary of State ; of the efforts of the latter to free himself 
from these restraints, at first by ignoring and evading the 
Council, and finally by abolishing its powers altogether and 
retaining it only as an advisory body.^ 

The Secretary of State for the Colonies, on the other hand, 
exercises a practically unfettered control, abte over the 
legislation and the finances of the majority of the colonies. 
He can, if need be, instruct the Governor to pass a law with 
the aid of his official majority. He can disapprove any item 
in the annual budgets, which, though passed by the local 
legislatures, require his final approval. 

The story of the India Council shows how strong is the 
modern tendency towards bureaucracy imder the guise of 
" the undivided responsibility of the Secretary of State to 
Parliament " — at a time when the control of either Parlia- 
ment or the Cabinet has dwindled to vanishing-point. It 
is idle, therefore, to discuss whether the Colonial Secretary's 
functions could be better discharged in the interests of the 
Empire, if he had to act as " Secretary of State in Council " 

1 See Dbert, ' Government of India,' p. 112 et seq. Also the 'Times' of 29th 
June 1914 and of 10th July 1919, where the later history of the India Council is 
admirably summarised. 


under the statutory restraints imposed on the Secretary for 
India for the last half century. It would wholly depend on 
the individuality of the Secretary of State. A beneficent 
autocracy has much to commend it if the autocrat is sym- 
pathetic, industrious, and has time to devote to his duties. 
On the other hand, it may he doubted whether an Executive 
Council of this kind would lighten those duties. It would no 
doubt completely alter the position of the permanent Under- 
Secretary, who could no longer be "frankly and undisguisedly 
head of the whole concern." 





An African Council : Its functions ; its constitution ; its procedure — 
Wider latitude to Governors — Grouping of colonies — Position of 
Governor - General — Governor - General's Council — Advantages of 
federation — The French system — Summary of suggestions — Personal 
touch with the Secretary of State — With the Under-Secretary — Inter- 
change of officers —Juniors — Seniors — Commercial intelligence — Cost 
of the Colonial Office — Crown colonies without means of expression. 

If the principle of an Advisory CouncU were adopted at the 
Colonial OfSce, it would probably be recognised that the 
Secretary of State would require separate Councils to deal 
with groups of colonies with such widely dissimilar conditions 
as the Par Eastern, the Mediterranean, and the West Indian 
on the one hand — all of which are colonies with constitutions 
more or less advanced — and the group of African dependencies 
on the other hand. But whether there be a single council 
or two is immaterial, for their duties and functions would, I 
assume, be practically identical. It is sufficient to deal here 
with an African Council for tropical Africa lying between 
the Union in the south and Egypt in the north. ^ 

The object of the CouncU would be to place at the disposal 
of the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretaries the ex- 
perience, independent judgment, and local knowledge of men 
who had held office as Governor, and of others who had 

^ I suggested such a Council as long ago as 1893 (see 'Our East African 
Empire,' vol. ii. p. 658), and later in fuller detail to the Secretary of State. 
It has also been advocated by Sir A. Sharpe, Sir C. Bruce, and others. On 
the other hand, Mr Chamberlain, in 1901, dissented from its creation at that 
time, and preferred appointing a powerful commission to proceed to West Africa 
and report. — (Speech to Liverpool deputation. See Annual Report of Chamber 
for 1901.) The Liverpool merchants have consistently supported the proposal 
up to the present day. — See also 'Morning Post,' 18/7/1898. 


special experience of its material problems, thus serving the 
same useful purpose as the India Council, without fetteriag 
the authority of the Secretary of State. As an official body 
it should not attempt " to make its voice heard, and to pro- 
mote a continuous and weU-informed interest in Africa," as 
suggested by the ' United Empire Journal,' for that is the 
sphere of an independent pubUc body. Its advice would be 
confined to matters referred to it for report. These would em- 
brace most of the really important questions, to the exclusion 
of those which are concerned with local administration, and 
lie outside the sphere of Colonial Office intervention. It 
might review and co-ordinate the policy underlying important 
legislation, and report on large schemes of development, 
changes in scales of emoluments affecting more than one 
colony, new methods of raising revenue which diifer from 
those in contiguous colonies, and similar questions. It 
might, perhaps, with the consent of the President, discuss 
and make recommendations on matters laid before it by its 
unofficial members ; and if so invited by the Secretary of 
State, it might submit suggestions for fllbng vacancies in 
the highest grades. It might even assist a local Government 
in the solution of a problem, by affording it information as 
to how a similar matter had been dealt with in another colony 
or in India. It might sift the accusations of philanthropic 
bodies, and hold the balance between them and the merchants 
and settlers. 

The permanent Under - Secretary for the African depen- 
dencies (if that post were created) would preside, and the 
Assistant Under-Secretary would be a member. Two seats 
might be filled by Governors who had retired within the five 
preceding years, and in spite of the objection that officers 
if appointed while still in the service would be fettered in 
the expression of their opinions, I think that a seat might 
be given to an officer who' had held office as Governor and 
had not yet retired. The knowledge he would acquire of the 
reasons which dictate the pohcy of the Secretary of State, 
the point of view of the merchants, and the way in which 
various problems of administration were being dealt with in 
different colonies, would be of great value to the colony (or 
group of colonies) he subsequently administered, while his 
local and up-to-date knowledge would be most useful to the 
Council. These three members would be appointed by the 


Secretary of State, and would retain their seats for, say, five 
years, and be eligible for reappointment. If the system of 
grouping colonies, to which I shall presently refer, were 
adopted, the Governors-General shoidd, I suggest, be ex-officio 
members of Council while in England, or at least attend its 

In addition to the five official and salaried members there 
should, I suggest, be three unofficial members without salary. 
Eepresentation on the permanent CouncU would no doubt 
be welcomed by the African sections of the London, Man- 
chester, and Liverpool Chambers of Commerce, in Ueu of the 
conferences held three or four times a year at the Colonial 
Office.^ The object of these meetings was to afford informa- 
tion to the merchant, and not to frame recommendations to 
the Secretary of State. 

AH matters discussed by the Council would be regarded 
as confidential. The members would be brought into close 
working relations with the high officials of the Colonial Office, 
and benefit by their accmnulated experience. A member of 
Parliament who had shown special interest in colonial affairs 
might on occasion be invited to attend meetings of the 
Council. A secretary would be provided to record proceed- 
ings, and the cost of the Council would be distributed between 
the several African dependencies. 

Business, it is suggested, could be transacted partly by 
meetings and partly by written minutes. The former are 
useful when it is desired to hear the evidence of experts, 
or when the attendance of any Governor on leave is desired. 
When the problem is complex and controversial, involving 
reference to many documents, the best result wOl, however, 
probably be obtained by written minutes, after a short pre- 
liminary discussion. By this method the inherent defect of 
committees is to some extent avoided — viz., that the most 
fluent and argumentative members monopolise the discussion, 
and there is a difficulty in arriving at definite conclusions. 

^ Miss Kingsley, in an address to the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, in 
which she denounced the "Crown colony system" in very trenchant terms, 
advocated in its place an African Council composed entirely of the " trade-lords " 
who had pecuniary interests in Wsst Africa, whether they had resided in the 
country or not. The German African Council appears to have consisted of 
twelve merchants. It seems unnecessary to discuss at length why it would be 
unwise for those members to predominate in the Council, whose advice, however 
disinterested, might be condemned by the ill-informed as biassed by personal 
interests, and who would have had no actual experience of administration. 


Incidentally the time of the President (the permanent Under- 
Secretary), who has little to spare, would be saved. 

A clearly- worded " reference " would be circulated to each 
member with the papers on the subject. He would briefly 
record his opinion, with the least possible delay, on the definite 
points raised, and the reasons on which it is based. If the 
opinions are divergent, a copy of them would be sent simul- 
taneously to each member, who, with the opinions of his 
colleagues before him — ^which may modify his earlier view — 
would record his conclusion as though the final decision lay 
with himself. The members would be men who have had to 
deal with committee reports, and to base a decision on some 
degree of compromise, and on the particular weight which 
they attach to each recorded opinion. Sir A. Frazer told me 
that in his experience as Lieut. -Governor of Bengal this 
method had hardly ever failed to produce a imanimous con- 
clusion. The Council minutes will form valuable records. 

The Council would have no direct dealings with local 
Governments. Its object would be to bring together the 
heads of the service at home and representative men with 
administrative experience, with a view to mutual understand- 
ing and co-operation, and in order that their combined advice, 
together with that of representatives of commerce, might be 
at the disposal of the Secretary of State whenever he requires 
it, and he could use it or not in Parliament as he might desire. 
Such a Council would afford a means of retaining a lien on 
the services of men with a specialised knowledge, and the 
Umit fixed for their appointment (though renewable) would 
enable the Secretary of State to dispense with their services, 
without appearing to undervalue them, when by reason of 
age, or of changes brought by time, they were no longer of 
the same value. Outstanding instances of specialists whose 
minds were stored with knowledge both accumulated and 
secret, and who knew more of particular and exceptionally 
complex situations than any other hviag authority, may be 
found in Sir John Kirk (East Africa and Zanzibar and African 
treaties, &c), Lord Cromer (Egypt), and Sir John Jordan 

These suggestions are based on the assumption that the 
Council would be constituted on the model of the India 
Council (but without its very limited restrictive powers) — 
viz., that it would consist of men of weight and experience 



to assist the Secretary of State with their advice. I have, 
however, referred to the suggestion of a Council of a purely 
departmental type, consisting of the heads of different branches 
in the Colonial Ofllce, on the War Office and Admiralty model. 
Such a Board would not be incompatible with the larger 
Advisory Council which I have discussed. 

My third suggestion raises the question whether it is pos- 
sible for the Secretary of State to entrust to a Governor a 
larger share of the responsibility which they divide between 
them for the administration of a British colony, without 
divesting himself of that ministerial responsibility which, as 
Sir W. Laurier, speaking of the Dominions, so emphatically 
insisted that it is necessary to maintain.^ The Government 
of India Act claims to have set a precedent in this direction, 
by delegating large powers to the Viceroy and his Council 
which had hitherto been reserved to the India Office and the 
Secretary of State. 

We have already seen that this principle was carried 
further by Mr Chamberlain than by any other Colonial Secre- 
tary, and it earned for him a devotion which no other has 
enjoyed in a like degree. N"or has any one been found to 
deny that it was justified in its results by the progress achieved 
during his tenure of office. Lord Milner has shown the same 
broad-minded statesmanship and desire to grant a larger 
measure of self-government. The stronger and more capable 
the ruler, whether he be the Secretary of State at home or the 
Governor abroad, the more ready he is to trust his subordi- 
nates, and to encourage their initiative, when he has satisfied 
himself that the trust will not be misplaced. " The tendency, 
however, to-day," says the 'Times,' "is to increase the 
numbers and the powers of the centralised bureaucracies, and 
to decrease the staffs and the independence of the local ad- 
ministrations." ^ Colonial Governors of acknowledged ability, 
such as Sir P. Swettenham and Sir Charles Eliot, when they 
had left the service and were free to speak, have urged the 
desirability of greater latitude to the local administrator.^ 

I have in a previous paragraph indicated how trivial are 
many of the matters on which a Governor is criticised, or 
regarding which his discretion is fettered. IS'or does there 

1 Cd. 3795 of 1907, pp. 5 and 6. 2 'Times,' 19th June 1920. 

3 'East African Protecterate,' Sir C. Eliot, p. 204. 'Malaya,' Sir F. 
Swettenham, p. 840. 


appear to be any discrimination between a Governor of long 
standing and experience administering an important colony, 
and one newly appointed to a minor post. Both alike are 
controlled by rigid regulations, some of which seem very 
inappropriate to the circumstances of a " first-class " colony.^ 
I should weary my reader were I to go into details : it suffices 
to refer to the sanctions required for writing off petty losses 
— though investigated by committees and by the Governor 
and his Council — and for incurring petty expenditure, and 
the inconvenience caused by delay in approving the annual 
budget while Colonial Office clerks elaborate detailed criti- 
cisms of petty items.2 

The principle of graduated responsibility would find ap- 
propriate expression if the colonies — or some of them — ^were 
formed into groups under Governors - General, and wider 
powers might, it is suggested, be conferred on the experienced 
and trusted officers, who would be selected for these respon- 
sible posts. The burden of the Secretary of State and his 
advisers would be proportionately reduced. ^ 

I have in chapter v. discussed the advantage of amalgamat- 
ing contiguous colonies, from the point of view of iaternal 
administration and economic development. The grouping or 
federation of colonies under a Governor-General (which was 
suggested by me to the Secretary of State in 1907) is an 
entirely different matter. For this purpose colonies need not 
have co-terminous frontiers, or forfeit their separate identity. 
The object is twofold : to promote some uniformity of policy 
among colonies with common economic conditions, and more 
or less identical problems of administration ; and to relieve 
the pressure of work at home by decreasing the number of 
units, and increasing the powers and responsibilities of the 
high official selected to control each group. Some measure 
of cohesion is advantageous, as, for example, the interchange 

^ Sir F. Swettenham, loe. cit. 

' The voice of East Africa, as expressed by the report of the Economic Com- 
mission, 1919, is emphatic that there should be no Colonial Office interference 
except where Imperial interests are affected. They stigmatise Crown Colony 
government as "an autocracy disguised as constitutional government" — and 
hence indefensible. Their very sweeping proposals must of course be taken to 
refer to a colony such as Kenya, with a large and educated British unofficial 

* Mr Churchill, speaking in Manchester so long ago as December 1906, expressed 
the view that " the day is not far distant when we shall be forced to embark 
upon a great scheme of amalgamating all our West African Colonies under a 
common organisation and control." 


of officials — ^in such varying degree as may be feasible, looMng 
to diversity of native languages and conditions in the com- 
ponent colonies, — the training of native subordinates, a com- 
mon penal code, a uniform coinage, and to such an extent 
as may be possible, uniformity in tariffs, mining laws, and 
other legislation affecting economic development. Some 
uniformity may also be possible in conditions of service and 
rates of pay for the Civil Service. Each unit would retain 
its own financial independence under its own Governor, 
though it may, as in. the French system, be desirable that 
each should contribute, proportionately to its revenue, to a 
common fund for large works whose utility is shared by all. 
At present even contiguous colonies have no means of know- 
ing what is being done by their neighbour. 

It would be premature to enter here into a detailed fore- 
cast of the functions of the Governor-General, and the powers 
he might exercise without invading the ministerial responsi- 
bility of the Secretary of State, or unduly curtaiHng those of 
the Governors administeriiig each unit. It would largely 
depend on the size of the groups, and is a matter which would 
require very careful consideration, and might well form a 
subject of reference to such a Council as I have suggested. 
Generally speaking, the more important legislation in each 
unit would be approved if not actually initiated — subject, of 
course, to disallowance by the Crown through the Secretary 
of State — by the Governor-General, with a view to preserving 
a measure of uniformity, and of identical poUcy, especially in 
such matters as native administration and railway con- 
struction. ^ The budgets of each would be scrutinised and 
approved by him, subject (if considered necessary) to the 
covering consent of the Secretary of State. The disposal of 
the common fund for public works shared by all, and the 
equalising of the incidence of the cost of military forces for 
frontier defence, would rest in his hands. The imposition 
of new taxation, and the inception of mUitary operations, 
would be subject to his concurrence — advised in aU matters 
by his Council. He alone would address the Secretary of 
State, but routine correspondence, as I have suggested, 

' The High Commisaioner of South Africa assents to all legislation in the 
Chartered Company's territories (Northern and Southern Rhodesia), and in the 
three widely separated Protectorates under his control, — Swazi, Basuto, and 


■would be conducted between the Governors and the Under- 

The " spot " over which he would exercise control would 
be so large, and its units might be so widely separated, that 
it would make Uttle difference to any particular one whether 
he was within or beyond the ambit of his territorial jurisdic- 
tion, and his instructions to his Governors should operate 
wherever he may be. He would probably need no deputy 
to act in his absence from headquarters, for the oflBcer ad- 
ministering each unit would have ample powers to take 
whatever immediate action might be required.^ 

Governors of units, with a few other high officials, would 
form a Council, as in the French colonies, meeting once a year 
for discussion, and at other times if summoned by the Governor- 
General. It has been suggested that the Council should con- 
sist of " Ministers " for industries, education, communica- 
tions, &c. Though some of the high officials, such as the 
Judge of the Appeal Court, the commandant of troops, &c., 
would no doubt reside with the Governor-General at the capital 
of the principal colony, and be available as a subordinate 
Council if desired, the appointment of Ministers controlling 
the departments of the different colonies, and forming an 
Administrative Council, would probably be premature in the 
conditions of Africa, and would interfere with the functions 
of the Governors and the independence of the colonies, and 
tend rather to amalgamation than to federation. Sir H. 
Johnston suggests that each group should have its own 
agency in London to look after its own material requirements 
and commerce.^ So far, however, as the principle of federation 
is concerned, there is no need to supersede the Crown agents. 

Such a system of federation of contiguous dependencies 
could not, I think, fail to advance their material prosperity. 
It would also, as I have pointed out, enable the Secretary of 
State to delegate enlarged powers to the Governor-General, 
and by reducing the number of units for which the Colonial 
Office is responsible, would lighten his task. The proposal 
f oUows in principle the analogy of the existing Appeal Courts in 

' A French writer (Mods. P. Millet) suggests that the British and French 
Governors - General should meet regularly and discuss problems of common 
interest — the use of ports, railways, and telegraphs, &c. — with a view to closer 
co-operation. This would tend to eliminate causes of friction and difficulties 
which are often due to exaggerated or false native reports. 

2 ' The African World,' 17th August 1918. 


the Bast and West, and it is interesting to note that it received 
support from the Under-Secretary, when moving the second 
reading of the West India Appeal Court Bill on 30th July 1920.^ 

East and West Africa form two convenient groups, though 
if the Sudan and l^orthern Ehodesia be included, the East 
African group might, temporarily at least, be divided into 
two. 2 Southern Ehodesia belongs to the South African 
group, whether included in the Union or not.^ 

The French system in West Africa has been described, says 
the official White Book, by an American writer as the best 
and simplest in the world, and by French writers as a model 
of efficiency. It is claimed that in actual results it has trans- 
formed the French colonies from a costly incubus into pros- 
perous and self-supporting possessions. It is therefore worth 
while to describe the system very briefly.* 

^ A single Appeal Court for East Africa, Uganda, and Nyasaland was set up by 
Order in Council of ISth February 1909. The " FuU " Supreme Courts of Nigeria 
and the Gold Coast constitute a Court of Appeal for those colonies. 

^ The question of federating the various units in East Africa under a " Viceroy " 
has of late (July 1920) been brought into prominence by a motion by Lord 
Islington in the House of Lords, and in letters to the 'Times' from Sir T. 
Morison (July 21, 1920) and others, who dwell on thejsimilarity of their problems, 
and the dissimilarity of the methods at present employed in their solution. 

In round figures the whole of British West Africa would aggregate about 
490,000 square miles, with a population of some 21,900,000. The whole of East 
Africa (including the Mandated Tanganyika Territory, the Sudan, and Northern 
Rhodesia) would cover about 2,140,000 square miles (twice the size of British 
India), with a population of 16,000,000. Were this divided into two, the southern 
group might include the Mandate territory, Nyasalaud, and Northern Rhodesia, 
with an area of about 695,600 square miles, and a population of 6,000,000. The 
remaining units, with an area of about 1,444,200 square miles (including the great 
deserts of the Sudan), would have a population of 10,122,000. (See Table, p. 45.) 

^ Since these pages were written, an apparently authoritative announcement 
has appeared in the 'Times' (14th September 1921), that the Secretary of State 
(Mr Churchill) "is engaged in an important scheme for the reorganisation of the 
administration of the Crown colonies and protectorates, designed to give them 
among other things a greater amount of autonomy." The pronouncement has 
received no official confirmation, and cannot therefore be treated as accurately 
indicating Mr Churchill's intentions, but it is interesting to note the statement 
that " the main proposals are the grouping of the various colonies according to 
their geographical position under High Commissioners, to whose shoulders will be 
transferred some of the duties and responsibilities — especially in the way of 
public appointments and concerning financial problems — which now devolve on 
the Secretary of State." Each High Commissioner, it is said, will be assisted by 
a council, partly elected and partly nominated, and will have control of Imperial 
forces, naval and military, within his jurisdiction. 

* See Foreign Office Handbook, No. 100 of 1920, and I.D.W.O. Memos, of 
October 1902 and October 1904. The trade of the French West African Colonies 
is stated to have increased from 66,200,000 francs in 1893 to 299,900,000 francs 
in 1913 (imports calculated on value in Africa, exports on value at destination). 
— ' What every Frenchman ought to know of French Occidental Africa,' by 
G. Fran9ois. See 'West Africa,' 9/18/19. 


The French possessions in West Africa are placed under 
two Governors-General. One, with headquarters at Dakar, 
controls those which comprise "French West Africa " — viz., 
Senegal, Guinea, the Ivory Coast, Dahomey, Upper Senegal 
and Niger, Togo and Mauretania — an area of over 1,822,000 
square miles and a population of nearly 12,000,000. The 
other, with headquarters at Brazzaville, controls " French 
Equatorial Africa " — viz., the Gabun, the Congo, Ubanghi- 
Shari, and Cameruns (late German). 

Taking the former in illustration of the system, we find 
that as long ago as 1895 the necessity for co-ordination by 
a Governor-General was recognised ; but it was not imtil 
the Anglo-French Convention of 1898, and the declaration of 
1899 had enabled her to link up the various colonies, that M. 
Decrais in the latter year was able to procure the decree which 
gave effect to the new system. It was elaborated and com- 
pleted by later decrees of 1st October 1902, and finally that 
of 18th October 1904. The powers of the home Government 
are in a large measure entrusted to the Governor-General, 
who exercises a more real control than can be exerted from 
France. Subject to the decrees and laws made by the Presi- 
dent and Chamber, he exercises wide powers — often tanta- 
mount to legislation — ^by means of " arreUs." He appoints 
all but the most senior officials, and those of the Treasury — 
and these he recommends. All correspondence with the home 
Government must pass through him. It is his duty to survey 
French policy as a whole, and co-ordinate the activities of 
the different colonies. Himself relieved of all direct adminis- 
trative functions, "he is absolute and responsible arbiter in 
all political and administrative matters." The Secretary- 
General, who was liable to encroach on his powers, was in 1909 
replaced by departments of Finance and General Business, 
working solely through the Governor-General, with inspectors 
of the different departments in the various colonies. He has 
a Council consisting of the Lieut. -Governors, the principal 
officials, and the influential natives from each of the four 
important colonies — in all, from twenty to twenty-five mem- 
bers. It meets yearly, and votes the general and colonial 
budgets, and the Governor-General must consult it in matters 
of finance and taxation. The different units, separated by 
intervening British colonies, are under Lieut.-Governors, who 
can also issue arreUs on local affairs, and have their own 


Councils, wMch they must consult on financial matters. 
Each raises its own revenue, but all Customs dues and taxes 
on shipping are paid into a common fund at the disposal of 
the Governor-General and the financial experts appointed 
by the home Government,^ from which assignments are 
made for railways and large public works. ^ 

The adoption of some or all of the suggestions I have 
made would extend the principles of Decentralisation and 
Continuity from the circumference overseas to the centre at 
Whitehall. They would, it is hoped, lighten the task of the 
Secretary of State and the higher officials, and remove the 
chronic complaint that juniors usurp their powers, and would 
tend to the more rapid despatch of important business. It is 
of no use adding to the size of the bladder by iucreastag the 
junior staff while the neck remains too narrow to cope with 
the discharge. Merchants and others interested in material 
development would obtain in the Council — ^where every side 
of a question could obtain a hearing, and pertinent papers 
would be presented — a recognised locus standi for the expres- 
sion of their views more appropriate and dignified than that 
they now enjoy. 

The admission of administrative officers on the one hand, 
and of merchants on the other, to share in the coimsels of 
Downing Street, would be in accord with the liberal tendencies 
of the time, and remove the complaint of bureaucratic rule 
and secrecy. Already there are signs that persistence in 
methods of exclusiveness may lead to a reaction under a 
Labour Ministry, which it should be the care of wise and 
prescient statesmanship to avert, by granting to the citizens 
of the Empire, whether at home or abroad, a reasonable 
voice in its development, and to the local Governments that 
larger latitude in the management of their own affairs which 
their growth and progress justifies. 

The methods by which it is sought to give effect to these 
principles are mainly two. First, the delegation by the 

1 Decree, 12th December 1912. 

^ Mr Morel, who considers the French system incomparably superior to our 
own, points out that every French colony which is not directly represented in 
the French Chamber (as Senegal has been since 1834) is represented at the 
Colonial Office by a delegate elected by vote of the white inhabitants. — 'Affairs 
of West Africa,' p. 24. 

The system has lately been largely reorganised by the decree of 4th July 1920. 
For the General Council there has been substituted a Colonial Council of forty 
elected members. 


Secretary of State of some of his powers and duties to new 
and responsible ofiBcers of the highest rank : — at home by the 
creation of a second Under-Secretary, and the delegation to 
those high ofl&cials who now exercise power in his name, 
of a measure of public and executive responsibility ; abroad, 
by the creation of Governors-General of groups of colonies 
with extended powers, who may relieve the Secretary of 
State of functions not essential to his ministerial responsi- 
bility, decrease the number of units, and promote continuity 
and a measure of uniformity of policy. Secondly, the utilisa- 
tion ta the service of the State of the knowledge and experi- 
ence, on the one hand of men who are no longer on the active 
Ust, and on the other, of representatives of commerce, in 
positions of public and responsible participation in the ad- 
ministration of the Empire. 

Miss Martineau, when describing how in 1825 it had become 
necessary to have an additional Under-Secretary, remarks : 
" We are beginning to learn how absurd it is to expect the 
machinery of the Colonial Office to do the necessary work," — 
the lesson has ever to be learnt afresh.^ 

One of the main objects in view — ^the promotion of closer 
touch between those responsible abroad and at home for the 
guidance and control of the dependencies — ^may be promoted 
in other ways, by far the most important of which is that 
the Secretary of State should be on terms of personal and 
unofficial intimacy with the Governors, of at any rate the 
more important colonies, when they are in England. They are 
not so numerous as to make it a matter of difficulty, and the 
advantage should be reciprocal. The Secretary of State 
would be enabled to form a personal estimate of the character 
and abiUty of his Governors, while they would enjoy the 
greatly valued opportunity of hearing from him any criti- 
cisms of their policy which may have reached his ears, and 
of verbally explaining their views and motives. There is a 
limit to government by despatches, and it is personal touch 
which stimulates the best efforts. That touch is lost if the 
Secretary of State is only a respected chief, accessible by 
rare interviews in his room at the Colonial Office. 

Mr Chamberlain's success and popularity as Colonial 
Secretary no doubt owed much to the pains he took to know 
his Governors personally. Though I was one of the youngest 

» 'Thirty Years' Peace,' vol. ii. p. 30, 


of them, he spoke with such entire frankness and freedom 
from ofiScial reticence, as to make one feel how entirely he. 
trusted one's discretion ; and Mr Lyttelton adopted the 
same attitude. In his official relations the Governor, as I 
have suggested, should be given every possible facility for 
keeping in touch with the affairs of his Government, and be 
fully consulted in every important matter whUe in England, 
his deputy's powers being strictly limited. 

But if it be desirable for the Secretary of State to be on 
terms of social intimacy with his Governors, it is equally 
desirable that the permanent Under-Secretary should per- 
sonally know the senior colonial officials. It is he who makes 
recommendations for the filling of the highest posts, and 
personal knowledge is essential, for local popularity may be 
the worst of guides. Governors and high officials who know 
how irksome interruption is when pressed with work, hesitate 
to intrude in office hours, or to stay longer than the business 
demands, but the opportunities afforded by successive Under- 
Secretaries for meeting them on terms of social intercourse have 
been rare. The Colonial Service thus feels that an absence of 
personal knowledge among the permanent officials in Whitehall 
has been responsible for selections for promotion which in 
many cases have been considered to be marvellously ill-judged. 

It has been suggested that it would be of great advantage, 
both to the Colonial Office and to the colonies, if officers were 
interchangeable between the two Services, or at least if officers 
from Whitehall served for some years abroad, and so gained 
personal knowledge of the colonies. The worst possible ex- 
pedient is the visit of a junior in search of " local colour." 
There is already some misgiving that in the laudable desire " to 
know what people are saying in the colony," junior officials at 
home are led to discuss questions of policy with juniors on leave 
from the colonies, and be guided by their irresponsible and 
necessarily ill-informed views. The type of officer who lends 
himself to such discussions is often one who is full of theories 
of his own, and is rarely the best qualified to voice local 
opinion. It is disheartening to the responsible officers to 
discover that official opinions have thus been formed on a half- 
knowledge of the facts. It is to obviate such fortuitous and 
undesirable means of acquiring knowledge, that a closer 
touch between responsible officers at home and abroad is so 
much needed. - 


Second only to " Padgett, M.P.," are the ill results arising 
from temporary service abroad of junior Colonial Office 
clerks. As a junior the officer has little opportunity for 
learning the reasons for any course of action adopted by the 
Governor and his Council, and may probably never even have 
heard of important matters outside his immediate sphere of 
work. On his return to the Colonial Office, the junior who 
has served temporarily in a colony is apt to be regarded as 
" the man who knows all about it," and it may be that his 
dicta may influence the views of his seniors, and be accepted 
in modification of those of the Governor and his Council. 
The only appointment in which an officer can become ac- 
quainted with the instructions of the Secretary of State, 
with the views of the Governor and his Council, and with the 
opinions expressed on matters of administrative poUcy by 
Lieut. -Governors and Eesidents, is as " Political Secretary " 
to the Governor (or " Secretary for Native Affairs ") — a post 
which should not be held by too junior an officer. 

Interchangeability between the services, as distinct from 
temporary service abroad, has, I believe, been adopted by 
the Foreign Office in aU grades, and offers, I think, many 
advantages. Under such a system officers of the home service 
would serve for alternate periods at home and abroad, at 
all stages of their careers, interchanging with selected officers 
of the colonial service, as in the Navy and Army. The junior 
is no longer a specialist if his seniors have also served abroad. 
The exchange, for iastance, of junior officers of the home 
service with colonial secretariat officers, for substantial periods 
of service, would afford to the former a considerable insight 
into the affairs of a colony, and to the latter a training in the 
excellent office methods of the home department. These 
conditions of service would, of course, have to be made clear 
to those who enter for the competitive Civil Service examina- 
tions. The old system in the Eastern colonies, which afforded 
a period of training at the Colonial Office to cadets before 
taking up their appointments, had much to recommend it. 

The interchange of officers in the highest posts should, 
above all, be beneficial to both services : Under-Secretaries 
with Governors, Assistant Under-Secretaries with Lieut.- 
Governors, and heads of Departments with the Secretaries of 
Colonial Governments. 

" Evidence," says Lord Crewe's Committee on the relations 


of the India Of&ce and the Indian Government, " has indicated 
the great value of briaging the superior oflftcers of the Home 
and Indian Administrations into close touch with each other 
under daily working conditions, and it is presumed that the 
system of deputiug these officers on special duty and with 
definite objects from one country to the other, will be con- 
tinued and possibly expanded." But they " do not think 
it desirable or possible to arrange any formal system of inter- 
change between members of the IncHa Office and the Indian 
services." ^ 

Before leaving the subject of Colonial Office organisation, 
a word may perhaps usefully be added on the subject of com- 
mercial inteUigence. Mr Churchill, when Under-Secretary, 
said that while the business of the Office had doubled or 
trebled in the last twenty years, the most remarkable increase 
was in the commercial branch, which, however, had not 
been altogether successful, and it was desirable that the 
Colonial Office should get more in touch with business men.^ 

Each colony nominates a correspondent with the Com- 
mercial Intelligence Branch of the Board of Trade, and in- 
quiries and samples can be transmitted to the Imperial 
Institute and to Kew. There are also the CoUege of Science 
and Technology, and the Overseas Trade Department ; ^ but 
sources of information are too confused — or diffused — ^whether 
for the colonies (which are somewhat out of touch with re- 
search and progress in other countries), or for business men 
who desire precise information, or direction as to where it 
can be obtained. 

An African Council on which commerce was represented 
would no doubt go far to meet Mr Churchill's desires, but 
it should be reinforced by special facilities for obtaining 
information. The Imperial Institute is the natural Com- 
mercial Department of the Colonial Office. It does not require 
duplication, but the great possibiMties of usefulness which 
it might afford seem to be hardly sufficiently utilised. 

I suggest that the simple and inexpensive expedient of an 
expansion of the library and reference-room at the Colonial 
Office, superintended (as now) by a thoroughly efficient 
librarian, whose services would be at the disposal of aU in- 

1 Report of 9th July 1918. ^ Speech of 7th February 1907. 

" See Board of Trade Memo, on ' Organiaation of Commercial Intelligence.' 
Cd. 8715/1917. 


quirers, would serve a very useM pxirpose. Here the legisla- 
tion of each colony on each special branch of material de- 
velopment would be collated for comparative study. Ques- 
tions and answers and debates in Parliament on colonial 
subjects could be tabulated for reference, with all command 
papers and other Blue-books, and even useful and pertinent 
magazine articles.^ Governors' despatches explaining the 
nature and object of new legislation affecting trade and 
industry, and the latest local regulations. Orders in Council 
and departmental reports, received mail by mail, and even 
Colonial Ofl&ce White-books, might be made available for 
reference. Memoranda compiled in the colony, dealing with 
the soil, climate, and labour-supply, the charges and conditions 
under which land is available, transport by rail, river, and 
road, customs dues, local markets, openings in agricidture, 
forestry, or mining, shoidd be supplied for the encouragement 
of new enterprise, with data as to the extent to which the 
Colonial Government would be able to afford special encour- 
agement. These and all other pamphlets and monographs 
should be obtainable from the librarian without the formality 
and delay of application to the Office. 

A small staff would be required, whose duty it would be 
to supply information needed by the colonies, and keep them 
posted in the legislation and progress in other tropical countries 
(including India) on economic subjects. A room might be 
set apart where merchants, mine-managers, and others could 
arrange meetings with Governors and colonial officials when 
in England, explain their wishes, and learn to what extent 
the finances would permit of their realisation. Much mis- 
understanding and ill-informed criticism would thus be 

Some of the suggestions I have made would involve addi- 
tional expense, but there would seem to be no objection in 
principle were the colonies invited to bear a part of the cost 
of the Colonial Office, as well as of an African Council, just 
as the Indian Government has hitherto borne the cost of the 

' Some years ago a very useful quarterly periodical, styled ' The Colonial Office 
Journal,' made its appearance, with Sir W. Mercer, one of the Crown Agents, as 
its editor. It was published with the approval of the Secretary of State, though 
he was not responsible for the opinions expressed in it. It is to he regretted 
that this excellent publication has ceased to appear. 

^ If for lack of space or other cause this suggestion were found to be im- 
practicable, possibly an arrangement could be made with the Royal Colonial 
Institute on the same lines. 


India Office. England, as we have seen, has treated her 
colonies with great generosity : at first by free grants in 
aid ; later, by the use of Imperial credit. There seems no 
good reason why, when a colony has grown to prosperity, it 
should not pay for the large amount of administrative busi- 
ness undertaken on its behalf by the Colonial Office (in addi- 
tion to contributing towards its defence, see p. 275), and 
so relieve the Imperial Exchequer at a time when it is bur- 
dened with such heavy liabilities incurred in the common 
interest.^ Such contributions, in return for specific benefits 
received, appear to me much more dignified and legitimate 
than the profit of 50 per cent made by the Mint on silver 
coin supplied to West Africa prior to the creation of a local 
currency, in return for a hypothetical redemption risk.^ It 
is said to have amounted to a very large sum per annum. 

The Crown colonies and protectorates, Uke the Dominions, 
have in the last decades advanced greatly in wealth and 
importance. Many of them have a considerable population 
of British merchants and others, and the British public has 
invested large sums of money in their development. Under 
the progressive and liberal rale of Lord Milner, Malta, Kenya, 
and Ceylon have been granted wider powers of self-govern- 
ment, and Jamaica may perhaps shortly realise her ambitions 
in this direction. Mr (now Lord) Long, moreover, made a 
notable departure in asking for the opinions of the colonies 
on questions of economic policy and reconstruction after the 
war. But for the most part they remain as they were fifty 
years ago, without a voice which can be heard outside the 
walls of the Colonial Office. They lack touch with centres 
of progress in this country. Organisations have been formed 
in England to meet this need — the West India Committee, 
the China Association, &c. — but they can only proceed by 
way of deputation to the Secretary of State, by periodical 
banquets, and by press agitation. Philanthropic bodies inter- 
ested in the tropics find powerful support — mission societies, 
anti-liquor, anti-opium, the Aborigines' Protection, &c. — ^but 
their sources of information are often very defective, and they 
can only proceed in the same fashion. It is becoming more 
and more an epoch of deputations, which waste much time, 
and usually give little satisfaction to those interested. 

' See Sir F. Swettenham in the 'Empire and Century,' p. 889. 
^ See Mr Harcourt's speech to liquor deputation, August 1911. 


It may pertinently be asked whether the time has not 
come when the Crown colonies and protectorates may justly 
demand some representation on Imperial Conferences. They 
all have much the same administrative and economic condi- 
tions and problems. If an administrator of proved experi- 
ence were nominated to represent them (preferably a member 
of the African Council if that body is formed), and if the 
nomination were publicly announced some time before the 
meeting of the Conference, and the colonies and home inter- 
ests alike were encouraged to communicate with him as to 
any matter of sufficient general interest to be placed, with 
the Secretary of State's concurrence, on the agenda paper — 
a representation would be accorded which would do some- 
thing to meet the present complaints of bureaucracy and lack 
of publicity in the conduct of the affairs of tropical depend- 
encies. The party in the State which will reaUse the immense 
and growing importance of the tropics,^ and the influence they 
will exert in the progress of this century, and the statesman 
who will take seriously in hand the problems of their adminis- 
tration and material development, wiU beyond doubt perform 
a great work for the Empire. 

That abler men than myself have refraiaed from suggesting 
reforms can, I suppose, only be attributed to the fact that 
in criticising systems they must needs appear, however un- 
intentionally, to criticise and offend the men who administer 

1 See 'The Empire and the Century,' 'The Tropics and the Empire,' by- 
Lady Lugard, pp. 817-826. 





The principle of co-operation — Divergent methods of self-government : 
(a) Representative government : The new system in India ; (6) Com- 
plete independence the goal ; (c) Dependent native rule — The Fulani 
of Nigeria — Recognition of the principle of rule through chiefs — 
Advanced communities in Nigeria — Relations with British staff — 
Revenues of native administrations — Courts and jurisdiction — The 
village unit — Essential features of the system — Application to non- 
Moslem States — Limitations to independence : (a) Armed forces ; 
(6) Taxation ; (c) Legislation ; (d) Land ; (e) Control of aliens — 
Disposal of revenue — Alien races as native rulers — Education of 
native rulers — Misuse of the system — System must vary with local 
traditions — Administrative procedure — Siiccession — Extra-territorial 

If contimiity and decentralisation are, as I have said, the 
first and most important conditions in maintaining an effec- 
tive administration, co-operation is the key-note of success 
in its application — continuous co-operation between every 
link in the chain, from the head of the administration to its 
most junior member, — co-operation between the Government 
and the commercial community, and, above all, between the 
provincial staff and the native rulers. Every individual adds 
his share not only to the accomplishment of the ideal, but to 
the ideal itself. Its principles are fashioned by his quota of 
experience, its results are achieved by his patient and loyal 
application of these principles, with as little interference as 
possible with native customs and modes of thought. 

Principles do not change, but their mode of application 
may and should vary with the customs, the traditions, and 



the prejudices of each unit. The task of the administrative 
officer is to clothe his principles ia the garb of evolution, not 
of revolution ; to make it apparent alike to the educated na- 
tive, the conservative Moslem, and the primitive pagan, each 
in his own degree, that the policy of the Government is not 
antagonistic but progressives-sympathetic to his aspirations 
and the safeguard of his natural rights. The Governor looks to 
the administrative staff to keep in touch with native thought 
and feeling, and to report fully to himself, in order that he in 
turn may be able to support them and recognise their work. 

When describing the machinery of Government in an 
African dependency in chapter vi., I spoke of the super- 
vision and guidance exercised by the Lieut. -Governor, the 
Eesidents, and the District Officers over the native chiefs. 
In this chapter I propose to discuss how those functions should 
be exercised. 

Lord MiLner's declaration that the British policy is to 
rule subject races through their own chiefs is generally ap- 
plauded, but the manner in which the principle should be 
translated into practice admits of wide differences of opinion 
and method. Obviously the extent to which native races 
are capable of controlling their own affairs must vary in 
proportion to their degree of development and progress in 
social organisation, but this is a question of adaptation and 
not of principle. Broadly speaking, the divergent opinions 
in regard to the application of the principle may be found to 
originate in three different conceptions. 

The first is that the ideal of self-government can only 
be realised by the methods of evolution which have pro- 
duced the democracies of Europe and America — viz., by re- 
presentative institutions in which a comparatively small 
educated class shall be recognised as the natural spokesmen 
for the many. This method is naturally in favour with the 
educated African. Whether it is adapted to peoples accus- 
tomed by their own institutions to autocracy — albeit modified 
by a substantial expression of the popular wiU and circum- 
scribed by custom — ^is naturaUy a matter on which opinions 
differ. The fundamental essential, however, in such a form 
of Government is that the educated few shall at least be 
representative of the feelings and desires of the many — well 
known to them, speaking their language, and versed in their 
customs and prejudices. 


In present conditions in Africa the numerous separate 
tribes, speaking different languages, and in different stages 
of evolution, cannot produce representative men of education. 
Even were they available, the number of communities which 
could claim separate representation would make any central 
and realty representative Council very unwieldy. The au- 
thority vested in the representatives would be antagonistic 
(as the Indian Progressives reaUse ^) to that of the native 
rulers and their councils, — ^which are the product of the natu- 
ral tendencies of tribal evolution, — and would run counter to 
the customs and institutions of the people.^ 

An attempt to adapt these principles of Western repre- 
sentative Government to tropical races is now being made in 
India. It is at present an Eastern rather than an African 
problem, but as a great experiment in the method of Govern- 
ment in tropical countries, the outcome of which " many 
other native races in other parts of the world are watching 
with strained attention," it demands at least a passing refer- 
ence here. . 

Though the powers entrusted to the elected representatives 
of the people are at first restricted under the dyarchical 
system (which reserves certaia subjects for the Central Au- 
thority), the principle of government by an educated minority, 
as opposed to government by native rulers, is fully accepted. 
It must be admitted that there is a considerable body of 
well-informed opinion in India and England — ^voiced here 
by the India Association, Lord Sydenham (who speaks with 
the authority Of an ex-Govemor of Bombay), and others — 
which expresses much misgiving as to the wisdom of placing 
aU political power " ia the hands of a disaffected minority 
unrepresentative of India," and regards it as " an attempt to 
govern India by the narrowest of oligarchies, whose interests 
often conflict with those of the millions." ^ 

The experiment has so far shown much promise of success, 
but the real test is not merely whether the native coimcillors 

' "The extremist Press," says Sir Valentine Chirol, " has already frequently 
denounced ruling princes and chiefs as intolerable obstacles to the democratic 
evolution of ' Swaraj ' " (Home Rule). — 'Times,' 10th February 1921. 

^ See the assertion of Chief Ofori to this effect quoted on p. 86. "We claim 
and we insist," say the spokesmen of tlie educated natives, while denouncing 
the present system, and advocating a new policy, "that such a policy can be 
adequately carried out only by giving an effective position in the legislatures to 

3 ' Times,' 22nd December 1913. See>lsoj' Spectator,' 5th February 1921. 


show moderation and restraint as against extremists of their 
own class, but whether, when legislation has to be enacted 
which is unpopular with the illiterate masses and the martial 
races of India, there may be a reluctance to accept what wiU 
be called " Babu-made law," though it would have been 
accepted without demur as the order of " the Sirkar " — the 
British Eaj. 

It is, of course, now too late to adopt to any large extent 
the alternative of gradually transforming the greater part 
of British India into native States governed by their own 
hereditary dynasties, whose representatives in many cases 
still exist, and extending to them the principles which 
have so successfully guided our relations with the native 
States in India itself, and in Malaya in the past. It 
is one thiag to excite an ignorant peasantry against an 
alien usurper, but quite another thing to challenge a native 

Such a system does not exclude the educated native from 
participation in the government of the State to which he 
belongs, as a councillor to the native ruler, but it substitutes 
for direct British rule, not an elected oUgarchy but a form 
of government more ia accord with racial instincts and 
inherited traditions. It may be that while dyarchy and 
representative government may prove suitable to Bengal, 
and perhaps to some other provinces, the alternative system 
may be found to be best adapted to Mohamedan States, 
and to other of the warlike races of India, where repre- 
sentatives of the ancient dynasties still survive. Time 
alone wiU show. I shall recur to this subject in the next 

The second conception is that every advanced community 
should be given the widest possible powers of self-government 
under its own ruler, and that these powers should be rapidly 
increased with the object of complete independence at the 
earliest possible date in the not distant future. Those who 
hold this view generally, I think, also consider that attempts 
to train primitive tribes in any form of self-government are 
futile, and the administration must be wholly conducted by 
British officials. This in the past has been the principle 
adopted in many dependencies. It recognised no alternative 
between a status of independence, like the Sultans of Malaya, 


or the native princes of India, and the direct rule of the 
district commissioner. 

But the attempt to create such independent States in 
Africa has been full of anomalies. In the case of Egbaland, 
where the status had been formally recognised by treaty, 
the extent to which the Crown had jurisdiction was uncertain, 
yet, as we have seen, iaternational conventions, including 
even that relating to the protection of wild animals, which 
was wholly opposed to native customary rights, were applied 
without the consent of the " Independent " State, and powers 
quite incompatible with independence were exercised by the 

The paramount chief might receive ceremonial visits from 
time to time from the Governor, and even perhaps be ad- 
dressed as " Your Eoyal Highness," and vested with titular 
dignity and the tinsel insignia of office. His right to impose 
tolls on trade, and to exact whatever oppressive taxes he 
chose from his peasantry, was admitted, but his authority 
was subject to constant interference. The last-joined District 
Officer, or any other official, might issue orders, if not to 
him, at any rate to any of his subordinate chiefs, and the 
native ruler had no legal and recognised means of enforc- 
ing his commands. He was necessarily forbidden to raise 
armed forces — on which in the last resort the authority of the 
law must depend — and could not therefore maintain order. 

The third conception is that of rule by native chiefs, un- 
fettered in their control of their people as regards all those 
matters which are to them the most important attributes of 
rule, with scope for initiative and responsibility, but ad- 
mittedly — so far as the visible horizon is concerned — sub- 
ordinate to the control of the protecting Power in certain 
weU-defmed directions. It recognises, in the words of the 
Versailles Treaty, that the subject races of Africa are not yet 
able to stand alone, and that it would not conduce to the 
happiness of the vast bulk of the people — ^for whose welfare 
the controlling Power is trustee — that the attempt should 
be made. 

The verdict of students Of history and sociology of different 

' That one of the stipulations of the Egba "Treaty of Commerce and Friend- 
ship " of 1893 should be the prohibition of human sacrifice, indicates that the 
community was hardly ripe for self-government. 


nationalities, such as Dr Kidd,^ Dr Stoddard,^ M. Beaulieu,' 
Meredith Townsend * and others is, as I have shown (p. 82), 
unanimous that the era of complete independence is not as 
yet visible on the horizon of time. Practical administrators 
(among whom I may include my succesbor. Sir P. Girouard, 
in Northern Mgeria) have arrived at the same conclusion. 

The danger of going too fast with native races is even 
more Hkely to lead to disappointment, if not to disaster, 
than the danger of not going fast enough. The pace can best 
be gauged by those who have intimate acquaintance aUte with 
the strong points and the limitations of the native peoples 
and rulers with whom they have to deal. 

The Pulani of Northern Mgeria are, as I have said, more 
capable of rule than the indigenous races, but in proportion 
as we consider them an alien race, we are denying self-govern- 
ment to the people over whom they rule, and supporting an 
alien caste — albeit closer and more akin to the native races 
than a European can be. Yet capable as they are, it requires 
the ceaseless vigilance of the British staff to maintain a 
high standard of administrative integrity, and to prevent 
oppression of the peasantry. We are dealing with the same 
generation, and in many cases with the identical rulers, who 
were responsible for the misrule and tyranny which we found 
ia 1902. The subject races near the capital were then serfs, 
and the victims of constant extortion. Those dweUing at a 
distance were raided for slaves, and could not count their 
women, their cattle, or their crops their own. Punishments 
were most barbarous, and included impalement, mutilation, 

' Dr Kidd writes : " There never has been, and never will be within any time 
with which we are practically concerned, such a thing as good government in 
the European sense of the tropics by the natives of these regions. " He describes 
the collapse of prosperity in the West Indies and Guiana which followed the 
false conception that the British tropics, if given control of their own destinies, 
would develop into modern states — and points to the gloomy picture of Hayti, 
&o. — ' Control of the Tropics,' pp. 37, 51, 73, &c. 

^ "Unless every lesson of history is to be disregarded, we must conclude that 
black Africa is unable to stand alone." — ' The Rising Tide of Colour,' p. 102. 

' "Les noirs d'Afrique sont au milieu de I'humanit^ des mineurs qui pour 
parvenir k un certain ^tat de civilisation . . . ont beaoin d'etre diriges, guides, 
gouvem^s pendant un bon nombre de dizaines d'anndes par les Europ&na. II 
convient que ohaque nation qui a la r&ponsibilite d'une Colonie Africaine puisae 
sur son territoire d'une absolue souverainite. " — Beaulieu, loc. cit., vol. i. pp. 361, 
364. See note, p. 82. 

* "None of the black races have shown within historic times the capacity to 
develop civilisation. " — 'Asia in Europe,' p. 92, quoted by the American writer, 
Dr Stoddart. He gives hia reasons at great length for his conclusions. 


and burying alive.^ Many generations have passed since 
British rule was established among the more intellectual 
people of India — ^the inheritors of centuries of Eastern civili- 
sation — yet only to-day are we tentatively seeking to confer 
on them a measure of self-government. " Festina lente " is a 
motto which the Colonial Oflace will do well to remember in 
its dealings with Africa. 

That the principle of ruling through the native chiefs is 
adopted by the different governments of British Tropical 
Africa can be seen from recent local pronouncements. The 
Governor of Sierra Leone, in his address to the Legislative 
Council last December (1920), remarks that "nine-tenths of 
the people enjoy autonomy under their own elected chiefs 
. . . European officers are the technical advisers, and helpers 
of the tribal authority." The Governor of the Gold Coast on 
a similar occasion observed: "The chiefs are keenly appre- 
ciative of our policy of indirect rule, and of the full powers 
they retain under their native institutions." ^ The powers 
retained by the Kabaka of Uganda and his Council are very 
wide indeed.^ 

' The dungeon at Kano is thus described : " A small doorway 2 ft. 6 in. by 
18 in. gives access into it ; the interior is divided by a thick mud wall (with a 
similar hole in it) into two compartments, each 17 ft. by 7 ft. and 11 ft. high. 
This wall was pierced with holes at its base, through which the legs of those 
sentenced to death were thrust up to the thigh, and they were left to be trodden 
on by the mass of other prisoners till they died of thirst and starvation. The 
place is entirely air-tight and unventilated, except for one small doorway or 
rather hole in the wall through which you creep. The total space inside is 2618 
cub. ft., and at the time we took Kano 135 human beings were confined here each 
night, being let out during the day to cook their food, &c., in a small adjoining 
area. Recently as many as 200 have been interned at one time. As the super- 
ficial ground area was only 238 square feet, there was not, of course, even standing 
room. Victims were crushed to death every night — their corpses were hauled 
out each morning. The stench, I am told, inside the place when Col. Morland 
visited it was intolerable though it was empty, and when I myself went inside 
three weeks later the effluvium was unbearable for more than a few seconds. A 
putrid corpse even then lay near the doorway." — Northern Nigeria Annual 
Report, 1902, p. 29. 

^ Captain Armitage says of the northern territories : " The powers of the chiefs 
had largely lapsed, and it was the custom to put, one might almost say, the 
village idiot on the stool. Our policy has been to re-establish the powers of 
several big chiefs, and it has been a remarkable success. " 

' Before Uganda had been declared a British protectorate, and control assumed 
by the British Government, I wrote (in 1898) : " The object to be aimed at in the 
administration of this country is to rule through its own executive government 
. . . the Resident should rule through and by the chiefs." — 'The Rise of our 
East African Empire,' vol. i. pp. 649, 651. 

Uganda proper is divided into Sazas, each of which has a ZuJciho, which 
assembles weekly and deals with minor cases. They are inspected by the district 
officers, and report to the Central Lukiko at the capital. This consists of some 


The system adopted in Nigeria is therefore only a par- 
ticular method of the application of these principles — more 
especially as regards " advanced commimities," — and since I 
am familiar with it I vidll use it as illustrative of the methods 
which in my opinion should characterise the dealings of the 
controlling power with subject races. 

The object in view is to make each " Emir " or paramoimt 
chief, assisted by his judicial CouncU, an effective ruler over 
his own people. He presides over a " Native Administration " 
organised throughout as a unit of local government. The 
area over which he exercises jurisdiction is divided into 
districts under the control of " Headmen," who collect the 
taxes in the name of the ruler, and pay them into the " Native 
Treasury," conducted by a native treasurer and staff under 
the supervision of the chief at his capital. Here, too, is the 
prison for native court prisoners, and probably the school, 
which I shaU describe more fully in the chapter on education. 
Large cities are divided into wards for purposes of control 
and taxation. 

The district headman, usually a territorial magnate with 
local connections, is the chief executive officer in the area 
under his charge. He controls the village headmen, and 
is responsible for the assessment of the tax, which he collects 
through their agency. He must reside in his district and 
not at the capital. He is not aKowed to pose as a chief with 
a retinue of his own and dupUcate officials, and is simamoned 
from time to time to report to his chief. If, as is the case with 
some of the ancient Emirates, the community is a small 
one but independent of any other native rule, the chief may 
be his own district headman. 

A province under a Eesident may contain several separate 
" Native Administrations," whether they be Moslem Emirates 
or pagan communities. A " division " under a British District 
Officer may include one or more headmen's districts, or 
more than one small Emirate or independent ^ pagan tribe, but 

forty Saza chiefs presided over by the Kabaka with his Katikiro and other 
ministers. The native administration has 20 per cent of the native tax — about 
£16,000. The system, says the Governor, "is an excellent example of the beet 
results of indirect rule." — ' United Empire,' June 1920, p. 395. 

Sir H. Low and Sir F. Swettenham testify from their experience in Malaya 
that "the only way to deal with the people is through their recognised chiefs and 

' By the term "independent" in this connection is meant "independent of 
other native control." 


as a rale no Emirate is partly in one division and partly 
in another. The Eesident acts as sympathetic adviser and 
counsellor to the native chief, being carefid not to interfere 
so as to lower his prestige, or cause him to lose interest in 
his work. His advice on matters of general policy must be 
followed, but the native ruler issues his own instructions to 
his subordinate chiefs and district heads — ^not as the orders 
of the Eesident but as his own, — and he is encouraged to work 
through them, instead of centralising everything in himself 
— a system which in the past had produced such great abuses. 
The British District Officers supervise and assist the native 
district headmen, through whom they convey any instruc- 
tions to village heads, and make any arrangements necessary 
for carrying on the work of the Government departments, 
but all important orders emanate from the Emir, whose 
messenger usually accompanies and acts as mouthpiece of a 
District Officer. 

The tax — ^which supersedes all former " tribute," irregular 
imposts, and forced labour — ^is, in a sense, the basis of the 
whole system, since it supplies the means to pay the Emir 
and all his officials. The district and village heads are effec- 
tively supervised and assisted in its assessment by the British 
staff. The native treasury retains the proportion assigned 
to it (in advanced communities a half), and pays the remainder 
into Colonial Eevenue. 

There are fifty such treasuries in the northern provinces 
of Nigeria, and every independent chief, however small, is 
encouraged to have his own. The appropriation by the native 
administration of market dues, slaughter-house fees, forest 
licences, &c., is authorised by ordinance, and the native 
administration receives also the fines and fees of native 
courts. From these fimds are paid the salaries of the Emir 
and his council, the native court judges, the district and 
village heads, police, prison warders, and other employees. 
The surplus is devoted to the construction and maintenance 
of dispensaries, leper settlements, schools, roads, court- 
houses, and other buildings. Such works may be carried out 
wholly or in part by a Government, department, if the native 
administration requires technical assistance, the cost being 
borne by the native treasury. 

The native treasurer keeps all accounts of receipts and 
expenditure, and the Emir, with the assistance of the Eesident, 


annually prepares a budget, which is formally approved by 
the Lieut.-Governor. 

In these advanced communities the judges of the native 
courts — ^which I shall describe in a later chapter — administer 
native law and custom, and exercise their jurisdiction inde- 
pendently of the native executive, but rmder the supervision 
of the British staff, and subject to the general control of the 
Emir, whose " Judicial Council " consists of his principal 
oflftcers of State, and is vested with executive as well as 
judicial powers. ISTo punishment may be inflicted by a native 
authority, except through a regular tribimal. The ordinances 
of government are operative everywhere, but the native 
authority may make by-laws in modification of native cus- 
tom — e.g., on matters of sanitation, &c.,-^and these, when 
approved by the Governor, are enforced by the native courts. 

The authority of the Emir over his own people is absolute, 
and the profession of an aUen creed does not absolve a native 
from the obUgation to obey his lawful orders ; but aliens — 
other than natives domiciled in the Emirate and accepting 
the jurisdiction of the native authority and courts — are under 
the direct control of the British staff. Townships are excluded 
from the native jurisdiction. 

The village is the administrative unit. It is not always 
easy to define, since the security to life and property which 
has followed the British administration has caused an exodus 
from the cities and large villages, and the creation of in- 
numerable hamlets, sometimes only of one or two huts, on 
the agricultural lands. The peasantry of the advanced com- 
munities, though ignorant, yet differs from that of the back- 
ward tribes in that they recognise the authority of the Emir, 
and are more ready to listen to the village head and the 
Council of Elders. "The development of self-government 
in India," says Lord Sydenham, " should begin with the 
Panchayet " (Village Council).^ This is the base and unit 
of the Nigerian system. 

Subject, therefore, to the limitations which I shall pres- 

' ' Times,' 10th August 1917. The Indian Commission of 1912 reported in favour 
of re-establishing the Panchayet, which previous reforms had tended to destroy. 
They are created in response to a demand for greater participation in the control 
of their own affairs, and are supported by voluntary taxation alone. — ('Times,' 
19/12/1917.) In Egypt the "Omdehs" of the villages were Government officials 
wilose qualification was ownership of ten acres of land. The system inevitably led 
to great abuse and tyranny. — (Sir V. Chirol, 'Times,' 1/1/20. )J 


ently discuss, the native authority is thus de facto and de jure 
ruler over his own people. He appoints and dismisses his 
subordinate chiefs and officials. He exercises the power of 
allocation of lands, and with the aid of the native courts, of 
adjudication ia land disputes and expropriation for offences 
against the community, these are the essential functions upon 
which, in the opinion of the West African Lands Committee, 
the prestige of the native authority depends. The lawful 
orders which he may give are carefully defined by ordinance, 
and in the last resort are enforced by Government. 

Since native authority, especially if exercised by alien 
conquerors, is inevitably weakened by the first impact of 
civilised rule, it is made clear to the elements of disorder, 
who regard force as conferring the only right to demand 
obedience, that government, by the use of force if necessary, 
intends to support the native chief. To enable him to main- 
tain order he employs a body of unarmed police, and if the 
occasion demands the display of superior force he looks to 
the Government — as, for instance, if a community combines 
to break the law or shield criminals from justice, — a rare 
event in the advanced communities. 

The native ruler derives his power from the Suzerain, and 
is responsible that it is not misused. He is equally with 
British officers amenable to the law, but his authority does 
not depend on the caprice of an executive officer. To iutrigue 
against him is an offence punishable, if necessary, in a Pro- 
Aoncial Court. Thus both British and native courts are in- 
voked to uphold his authority. 

The essential feature of the system (as I wrote at the time 
of its inauguration) is that the native chiefs are constituted 
"as an integral part of the machinery of the administration. 
There are not two sets of rulers — ^British and native — ^working 
either separately or in co-operation, but a single Government 
in which the native chiefs have weU-defined duties and an 
acknowledged status equally with British officials. Their 
duties should never conflict, and should overlap as Httle as 
possible. They should be complementary to each other, and 
the chief himself must imderstand that he has no right to 
place and power unless he renders his proper services to the 

The ruling classes are no longer either demi-gods, or para- 
sites preying on the community. They must work for the 


stipends and position they enjoy. They are the trusted 
delegates of the Governor, exercising in the Moslem States 
the well-understood powers of " Wakils " in conformity with 
their own Islamic system, and recognisiug the King's repre- 
sentative as their acknowledged Suzerain. 

There is here no need of " Dyarchy," for the lines of de- 
velopment of the native administration run parallel to, and 
do not intersect, those of the Central Government. It is 
the consistent aim of the British staff to maintain and in- 
crease the prestige of the native ruler, to encourage his in- 
itiative, and to support his authority. That the chiefs are 
satisfied with the autonomy they enjoy in the matters which 
reaUy interest and concern them, may be judged by their 
loyalty and the prosperity of their country. 

Comparatively little difficulty, it may be said, would be 
experienced in the appUcation of such a system to Moslem 
States, for even if their rulers had deteriorated, they stiU 
profess the standards of Islam, with its system of taxation, 
and they possess a literate class capable of discharging the 
duties I have described. No doubt the alien immigrants in 
the northern tropical belt afford better material for social 
organisation, both racially and through the influence of their 
creed, than the advanced communities of negro stock which 
owe nothing to Islam, such as the Baganda, the Ashantis, 
the Yorubas, the Benis, and others. But the self-evolved 
progress in social organisation of these latter communities 
is in itself evidence that they possessed exceptional intelli- 
gence, probably more widely diffused among the peasantry 
than would be foimd among those over whom an alien race 
had acquired domination. They too had evolved systems of 
taxation and of land tenure, and had learnt to delegate 
authority. The teaching of missions through many decades 
had in most cases produced a class who, if their energies were 
rightly directed to the service of their communities instead 
of seeking foreign outlets, would form a very valuable aid in 
the building up of a " Native Administration." That these 
communities are fuUy capable of adopting such a system has 
been proved in recent years in South Mgeria. 

They have not produced so definite a code of law, or such 
advanced methods of dispensing justice, as the Koran has 
introduced, and they lack the indigenous educational advan- 
tages which the use of Arabic and the rehgious schools have 


conferred on the Moslem. On the other hand, many — 
especially the Baganda — have benefited greatly by the 
Christian schools, and a wider range of knowledge, including 
English. Some of their chiefs — ^notably Khama of Bechnana, 
and several of those in Uganda — ^have been remarkable men. 
Among many of these commmiities the chiefs exercise an influ- 
ence different in its nature from that accorded to an alien 
ruler, and based on superstitious veneration. 

The limitations to independence which are frankly in- 
herent in this conception of native rule — ^not as temporary 
restraints to be removed as soon as may be, but as powers 
which rightly belong to the controlling Power as trustee for 
the welfare of the masses, and as being responsible for the 
defence of the country and the cost of its central administra- 
tion — are such as do not involve interference with the authority 
of the chiefs or the social organisation of the people. They 
have been accepted by the Fulani Emirs as natural and 
proper to the controUing power, and their reservation in the 
hands of the Governor has never interfered with the loyalty 
of the ruling chiefs, or, so far as I am aware, been resented 
by them. The limitations are as follows : — 

(1) Native rulers are not permitted to raise and control 
armed forces, or to grant permission to carry arms. To this 
tu principle Great Britain stands pledged under the Brussels 
Act. The evils which result in Africa from an armed popula- 
tion were evident in Uganda before it fell under British control, 
and are very evident in Abyssinia to-day. No one with ex- 
perience will deny the necessity of maintaining the strictest 
military discipline over armed forces or police in Africa if 
misuse of power is to be avoided, and they are not to become 
a menace and a terror to the native population and a danger 
in case of religious excitement — a discipline which an African 
ruler is incapable of appreciating or applying. For this 
reason native levies should never be employed in substitution 
for or in aid of troops.^ (See p. 576.) 

On the other hand, the Government armed police are never 
quartered in native towns, where their presence would inter- 
fere with the authority of the chiefs. Like the regular troops, 

' This rule does not seem to have been enforced in Kenya. " Administrative 
chiefs, in order to assert and maintain their authority, have found it necessary to 
form bands of armed retainers, to whom they accord special privileges which are 
found to be oppressive." — Official Handbook 1216, p. 243. 


they are employed as escorts and on duty in the townships. 
The native administration maintain a police, who wear a 
imiform but do not carry firearms. 

(2) The sole right to impose taxation in any form is reserved 
to the Suzerain, power. This fulfils ths bUateral understand- 
ing that the peasantry — ^provided they pay the authorised 
tax (the adjustment of which to all classes of the population 
is a responsibihty which rests with the Central Government) 
— should be free of aU other exactions whatsoever (including 
Tmpaid labour), while a sufficient proportion of the tax is 
assigned to the native treasuries to meet the expenditure of 
the native administration. Special sanction by ordinance — 
or "rule" approved by the Governor — ^is therefore required 
to enable the native authority to levy any special dues, &c. 

(3) The right to legislate is reserved. That this should re- 
main in the hands of the Central Government — ^itself limited 
by the control of the Colonial Office, as I have described — 
cannot be questioned. The native authority, however, exer- 
cises very considerable power in this regard. A native ruler, 
and the native courts, are empowered to enforce native law 
and custom, provided it is not repugnant to humanity, or 
ia opposition to any ordinance. This practically meets all 
needs, but the native authority may also make rules on 
any subject, provided they are approved by the Governor. 
(See chapter xxvui.) 

(4) The right to appropriate land on equitable terms for 
public purposes and for commercial requirements is vested in 
the Governor. In the Northern Provinces of Mgeria (but not 
in the South) the right of disposing of native lands is reserved 
to the Governor by ordinance. In practice this does not 
interfere with the power of the native ruler (as the delegate - 
of the Governor) to assign lands to the natives under his 
rule, in accordance with native law and custom, or restrict 
him or the native courts from adjudicating between natives 
regarding occupancy rights in land. No rents are levied on 
lands in occupation by indigenous natives. Leases to aliens 
are granted by the Central Government. (See chapters xiv. 
and XV.) 

If the pressure of population in one commimity makes it 
necessary to assign to it a portion of the land belonging to 
a neighbour with a small and decreasing population, the 
Governor (to whom appeal may be made) would decide the 


matter. These reservations were set out in the formal letter 
of appointment given to each chief in Northern IsTigeria. 

(5) In order to maintaia intact the control of the Central 
Government over aU aUens, and to avoid friction and diffi- 
culties, it has been the recognised rule that the employees 
of the native administration should consist entirely of natives 
subject to the native authority. If aliens are required for 
any skilled work by the native administration, Government 
servants may be employed and their salaries reimbursed by 
the native treasury. For a like reason, whenever possible, 
all non-natives and natives not subject to the local native 
jurisdiction live in the " township," from which natives sub- 
ject to the native administration are as far as possible ex- 
cluded. This exclusive control of aUens by the Central Gov- 
ernment partakes rather of the nature of " extra-territorial 
jurisdiction " than of dualism. 

(6) PiuaUy, ia the interests of good government, the right of 
confirming or otherwise the choice of the people of the suc- 
cessor to a chiefship, and of deposing any ruler for misrule 
or other adequate cause, is reserved to the Governor. 

The revenue of a native administration consists, as I have 
said, not of an arbitrary sum assigned to it by the Governor, 
but of a fixed proportion of the statutory tax collected by 
its agency, together with the fines and fees from native courts, 
market dues, and similar receipts assigned by the Governor. 
Thus, though the Suzerain power imposes the taxes (whether 
direct in the form of an income tax or indirect as customs 
dues, &c.), and the general rate of the former is fixed by the 
Governor, the actual assessment is in the hands of the native 
ruler and his representatives — the district and village heads 
— guided and assisted by the British staff. It therefore ap- 
pears to the taxpayer as a tax imposed by his own native 
ruler, though he knows that the vigilant eye of the District 
Officer wHl see that no unauthorised exactions are made, 
and that any injustice will be remedied. Since the salaries 
of the ruler and the officials of the " ]l>)"ative Administration " 
are paid out of their own native treasury funds, they cannot 
be regarded by him as officials paid by Government. 

The proportion assigned to the native administration in 
advanced communities is a half of the general income and 
cattle tax, — the proportion is less in pagan communities. 
On the inauguration of the tax in Nigeria the proceeds were 


quite insufi&cient to meet even the necessary salaries of chiefs ; 
but with improved assessment, a more honest collection, and 
increased prosperity, the sum, without additional burden, has 
become so large that in the more wealthy Emirates there is a 
considerable surplus, when all the salaries of the very largely- 
increased establishments of native oflBcials, police and prison 
staff, &c., have been paid.^ From these fimds native court- 
houses, treasuries, schools, and prisons for native court 
prisoners have been built, and the balance, invested in a 
reserve fimd, totalled in 1919 £486,654, exclusive of the large 
sums voted by the Emirs towards the cost of the war. These 
reserve funds — originally created to meet any emergency, 
such as famine or cattle disease, when Northern Nigeria 
had no colonial reserve, and was dependent on a grant-in-aid 
— are now available for public works of benefit to the people.* 

The revenues of the native administrations do not appear 
in the colonial budget of revenue and expenditure, and are 
independent of colonial treasury or audit control. The proper 
expenditure of these large sums — obtained by taxes imposed 
and enforced by the Suzerain Power — ^must obviously depend 
in part on the ability of each native ruler, and in part on 
the Eesident who advises him. " Unfettered control " may 
in some cases mean that a Eesident, and not the ruling chief, 
disposes of large revenues independent of the Lieut. -Governor ; 
in other cases it may mean a tendency to multiply ofiBces 
and pay high salaries, which either overburden the finances 
of other less wealthy treasuries, or cause discontent among 
its employees, and ultimately enhance the cost of labour 
throughout the country — a result which is inimical to pro- 
duction and progress, unless necessitated by economic causes. 
It is a tendency which a Eesident, however much he has 
identified himself in the interests of the native administration, 
may not find it easy to resist, though he sets his face against 
nepotism and the reckless exercise of patronage and display 
— ^which are so apt to be regarded as the symbol of power by 
a native ruler. 

Pending the growth of a fuller sense of public responsi- 
bility and of an enlightened public opinion, some check may 

1 The aggregate revenues at the disposal of the native administrations increased 
from £28,500 in 1906-1907 to £536,000 in 1919. 

^ A piped water-supply from a distant reservoir to Kano city was projected, 
but the undertaking was delayed by the war. 


be afforded by the preparation of animal estimates of revenue 
and expenditure in a very simple form. These should require 
the approval of the Governor (or of the Lieut.-Govemor), as 
the colonial estimates require that of the Secretary of State, 
and any subsequent alteration should require the like sanction. 
While refraining as far as possible from interference in detail, 
the Lieut.-Govemor can, by suggestion and comparison, 
effect some co-ordination and imiformity where desirable, 
and can best discriminate between the scope which may be 
allowed to an individual, and the grant of extended powers 
of universal application.^ 

The habits of a people are not changed in a decade, and 
when powerful despots are deprived of the pastime of war and 
slave-raiding, and when even the weak begin to forget their 
former sufferings, to grow weary of a life without excitement, 
and to resent the petty restrictions which have replaced the 
cruelties of the old despotism, it must be the aim of Govern- 
ment to provide new interests and rivalries in civilised pro- 
gress, in education, in material prosperity and trade, and 
even in sport. ^ 

There were indeed many who, with the picture of Pulani 
misrule fresh in their memory, regarded this system when it 
was first inaugurated with much misgiving, and believed that 
though the hostility of the rulers to the British might be 
concealed, and their vices disguised, neither could be eradi- 
cated, and they would always remain hostile at heart. They 
thought that the Fulani as an alien race of conquerors, who 
had in turn been conquered, had not the same claims for 
consideration as those whom they had displaced, even though 

' Some difference between the Colonial Office and local opinion arose in con- 
nection with these funds. The Secretary of State directed that they should only 
be used for works which the Government would not otherwise have undertaken, 
and refused contributions made to the cost of the war — limitations which seemed 
to hamper the utility of the projects undertaken, and to fetter the discretion 
&nd wound the susceptibilities of the chiefs and their councils. Opinions also 
differed as to the extent of the control over these large sums which should in the 
present stage of evolution be exercised by the Governor, and as to the desirability 
of some special accounting and audit staff, without unnecessary interference 
or time- wasting "red-tape." These, however, were not matters of vital im- 
portance. The principle at issue was that of dependent rule as opposed to 
independence, and perhaps the local opinion, in its insistence on the advisability 
of the former, was betrayed into too narrow a view in regard to financial 

^ As Professor Elliott-Smith has justly observed, a people becomes decadent, 
and population decreases, not so much from war or disease as from lack of 
interests in life. 


they had become so identified with the people that they could 
no longer be called ahens. 

But there can be no doubt that such races form an in- 
valuable medium between the British staff and the native 
peasantry. Nor can the difficulty of finding any one capable 
of taking their place, or the danger they would constitute to 
the State if ousted from their positions, be ignored. Their 
traditions of rule, their monotheistic reUgion, and their in- 
telligence enable them to appreciate more readily than the 
negro population the wider objects of British pohcy (see 
p. 220), while their close touch with the masses — ^with whom 
they Hve in daily intercourse — ^mark them out as destined 
to play an important part in the future, as they have done 
in the past, in the development of the tropics. 

Both the Arabs in the east and the Fulani in the west 
are Mohamedans, and by supporting their rule we unavoidably 
encourage the spread of Islam, which from the purely ad- 
ministrative point of view has the disadvantage of being 
subject to waves of fanaticism, bounded by no pohtical 
frontiers. In Mgeria it has been the rule that their power 
should not be re-estabhshed over tribes which had made 
good their independence, or imposed upon those who had 
successfully resisted domiuation. 

On tbe other hand, the personal interests of the rulers 
must rapidly become identified with those of the controlling 
Power. The forces of disorder do not distinguish between 
them, and the rulers soon recognise that any upheaval against 
the British would equally make an end of them. Once this 
community of interest is estabHshed, the Central Govern- 
ment cannot be taken by surprise, for it is impossible that 
the native rulers should not be aware of any disaffection.^ 

This identification of the ruling class with the Govern- 
ment accentuates the corresponding obUgation to check mal- 
practices on their part. The task of educating them in the 
duties of a ruler becomes more than ever insistent ; of in- 
culcating a sense of responsibihty ; of convincing their in- 
teUigence of the advantages which accrue from the material 
prosperity of the peasantry, from free labour and initiative ; 

^ Soon after the establishment of British rule in Northern Nigeria more than 
one "Mahdi" arose, and obtained a fanatical following, but in every case the 
Fulani Emir actively assisted in suppressing the disturbance. In the Sudan 
thirteen Mahdis arose between 1901 and 1916.— F.O. Handbook 98, p. 43. The 
Germans in East Africa, in order to check the spread of Islam, encouraged pig- 
breeding.— Cmd. 1428/1921, p. 30. 


of the necessity of delegating powers to trusted subordinates ; 
of the evils of favouritism and bribery ; of the importance 
of education, especially for the ruling class, and for the filling 
of lucrative posts under Government ; of the benefits of 
sanitation, vaccination, and isolation of infection in checking 
mortality ; and finally, of impressing upon them how greatly 
they may benefit their country by personal interest in such 
matters, and by the application of labour-saving devices and 
of scientific methods in agriculture. 

Unintentional misuse of the system of native administration 
must also be guarded against. It is not, for instance, the 
duty of a native administration to purchase supplies for 
native troops, or to enlist and pay labour for public works, 
though its agency within carefully defined limits may be 
useful in making known Government requirements, and see- 
ing that markets are well supphed. Nor should it be directed 
to collect licences, fees, and rents due to Government, nor 
should its funds be used for any purpose not solely connected 
with and prompted by its own needs. 

I have throughout these pages continually emphasised 
the necessity of recognising, as a cardinal principle of British 
pohcy in dealing with native races, that institutions and 
methods, in order to command success and promote the 
happiness and welfare of the people, must be deep-rooted in 
their traditions and prejudices. Obviously in no sphere of 
administration is this more essential than in that under dis- 
cussion, and a slavish adherence to any particular type, how- 
ever successful it may have proved elsewhere, may, if im- 
adapted to the local environment, be as ill-suited and as 
foreign to its conceptions as direct British rule would be. 

The type suited to a community which has long grown 
accustomed to the social organisation of the Moslem State 
may or may not be suitable to advanced pagan commimities, 
which have evolved a social system of their own, such as the 
Yorubas, the Benis, the Egbas, or the Ashantis in the West, 
or the Waganda, the Wanyoro, the Watoro, and others in 
the East. The history, the traditions, the idiosyncracies, and 
the prejudices of each must be studied by the Eesident and 
his staff, in order that the form adopted shall accord with 
natural evolution, and shall ensure the ready co-operation 
of the chiefs and people.^ 

Before passing to the discussion of methods applicable to 

1 See p. 82, footnote 7. 


primitiye tribes, it may be of interest to note briefly some 
of the details — as apart from general principles — adopted in 
Nigeria among the advanced commmiities. 

Chiefs who are executive rulers are graded — those of the 
first three classes are installed by the Governor or Lieut.- 
Governor, and carry a staff of office surmounted for the first 
class by a silver, and for the others by a brass crown. Lower 
grades carry a baton, and are installed by the Resident, or 
by the Emir, if the chief is subordinate to him. These staves 
of office, which are greatly prized, symbolise to the peasantry 
the fact that the Emir derives his power from the Govern- 
ment, and will be supported in its exercise. The installation 
of an Emir is a ceremonial witnessed by a great concourse 
of his people, and dignified by a parade of troops. The 
native insignia of office, and a parchment scroll, setting out 
in the vernacular the conditions of his appointment, are 
presented to him. The alkali (native judge) administers the 
following oath on the Koran : "I swear in the name of God, 
well and truly to serve His Majesty King George V. and his 
representative the Governor of Mgeria, to obey the laws of 
Nigeria and the lawful commands of the Governor, and of 
the Lieut. -Governor, provided that they are not contrary to 
my religion, and if they are so contrary I will at once inform 
the Governor through the Resident. I wiU cherish in my heart 
no treachery or disloyalty, and I will rule my people with 
justice and without partiaUty. And as I carry out this oath 
so may God judge me." Pagan chiefs are sworn according 
to their own customs on a sword. 

Native etiquette and ceremonial must be carefully studied 
and observed in order that unintentional offence may be 
avoided. Great importance is attached to them, and a like 
observance in accordance with native custom is demanded 
towards British officers. Chiefs are treated with respect and 
courtesy. Native races aUke in India and Africa are quick 
to discriminate between natural dignity and assimied superi- 
ority. Vulgar famiharity is no more a passport to their 
friendship than an assimiption of self-importance is to their 
respect.^ The English gentleman needs no prompting in such 

' " The Master said : The nobler sort of man is dignified but not proud; the 
inferior man proud but not dignified. The nobler sort of man is easy to serve 
yet difiBcult to please. In exacting service from others he takes account of 
aptitudes and limitations." — ' The Sayings of Confucius,' L. Giles, p. 65. 


a matter — his instinct is never wrong. E'ative titles of rank 
are adopted, and only native dress is worn, whether by chiefs 
or by schoolboys. Principal chiefs accused of serious crimes 
are tried by a British court, and are not imprisoned before 
trial, unless in very exceptional circumstances. Minor chiefs 
and native officials appointed by an Emir may be tried by his 
Judicial Council. If the offence does not involve deprivation 
of ofBce, the offender may be fined without public trial, if he 
prefers it, in order to avoid humiliation and loss of influence. 

Succession is governed by native law and custom, subject 
in the case of important chiefs to the approval of the Governor, 
in order that the most capable claimant may be chosen. It 
is important to ascertain the customary law and to follow it 
when possible, for the appointment of a chief who is not the 
recognised heir, or who is disliked by the people, may give 
rise to trouble, and in any case the new chief would have 
much difficulty in asserting his authority, and would fear to 
check abuses lest he should alienate his supporters. In 
Moslem countries the law is fairly clearly defined, being a 
useful combination of the hereditary principle, tempered by 
selection, and in many cases in Mgeria the ingenious device 
is maintained of having two rival dynasties, from each of 
which the successor is selected alternately. 

In pagan communities the method varies ; but there is no 
rigid rule, and a margin for selection is allowed. The formal 
approval of the Governor after a short period of probation 
is a useful precaution, so that if the designated chief proves 
himself unsuitable, the selection may be revised without 
difficulty. Minor chiefs are usually selected by popular vote, 
subject to the approval of the paramount chief. It is a rule 
in Mgeria that no slave may be appointed as a chief or dis- 
trict headman. If one is nominated he must first be publicly 

Small and isolated communities, living within the juris- 
diction of a chief, but owing allegiance to the chief of their 
place of origin — a common source of trouble in Africa — 
should gradually be absorbed into the territorial jurisdiction. 
Aliens who have settled in a district for their own purposes 
would be subject to the local jurisdiction. 




Arguments againat the system in case of primitive tribes— Eeasons for 
its adoption — Changed conditions in Africa — Decay of tribal authority 
— The task of the Suzerain power — Effect of direct taxation — Native 
opinion of the system — Selection of chiefs — Study of primitive insti- 
tutions — Summary of objects — Eesults in Nigeria— Loyalty of the 
chiefs — Criticisms of the system of ruling through chiefs — Govern- 
ment responsibility for misrule — Inadequate supervision — Not appli- 
cable to Europeanised class — Interferes with departmental officers — 
Lessons from Indian policy — The policy in Egypt — French policy in 

There are some who consider that however desirable it may 
be to rule through the native chiefs of advanced communities, 
such a pohcy is misplaced, if not impossible, among the back- 
ward tribes. Here, they would say, the Eesident and his 
staif must be recognised as the direct rulers, since among 
the most primitive peoples there are no recognised chiefs 
capable of exercising rule. The imposition of a tax is in their 
view premature, since (they say) the natives derive no corre- 
sponding benefit, and learn to regard the District Officer 
merely as a tax-collector. Moreover, refusal to pay necessi- 
tates coercive expeditions — scarcely distinguishable from the 
raids of old times. To attempt to adapt such methods — 
however suitable to the Moslem commimities — ^to the con- 
ditions of primitive tribes, would be to foist upon them a 
system foreign to their conceptions. In the criticisms I have 
read no via media is indicated between those who are ac- 
counted to rank as advanced communities, entitled before long 
to independence, and direct rule by the British staff. 

Let us realise that the advanced communities form a very 
minute proportion of the population of British Tropical 
Africa. The vast majority are in the primitive or early 


tribal stages of development. To abandon the policy of 
ruling them through their own chiefs, and to substitute 
the direct rule of the British officer, is to forgo the high 
ideal of leading the backward races, by their own efforts, 
in their own way, to raise themselves to a higher plane of 
social organisation, and tends to perpetuate and stereotype 
existing conditions. 

We must realise also two other important facts. First, 
that the British staff, exercising direct rule, cannot be other- 
wise than very small in comparison to the area and popula- 
tion of which they are in charge.^ That rule cannot generally 
mean the benevolent autocracy of a particular District Officer, 
well versed in the language and customs of the people, but 
rule by a series of different white men, conveying their orders 
by police and couriers and aUen native subordinates, and the 
quartering of police detachments in native vilLages. Experi- 
ence has shown the difficulty in such conditions of detecting 
and checking cases of abuse of office, and of acquisition of 
land by aUen and absentee native landlords. There is a 
marked tendency to litigation, and the entire decay of such 
tribal authority as may previously have existed. 

The changed conditions of AMcan life is the second im- 
portant fact for consideration. The advent of Europeans 
cannot faU to have a disintegrating effect on tribal authority 
and institutions, and on the conditions of native life. This 
is due in part to the unavoidable restrictions imposed on the 
exercise of their power by the native chiefs. They may no 
longer inflict barbarous and inhuman punishments on the 
individual, or take reprisals by force of arms on aggressive 
neighbours or a disobedient section of the community. The 
concentration of force in the hands of the Suzerain Power, 
and the amenability of the chiefs to that Power for acts of 
oppression and misrule, are evidence to primitive folk that 
the power of the chiefs has gone. This decay of tribal au- 
thority has unfortunately too often been accentuated by the 
tendency of British officers to deal direct with petty chiefs, 

' What a thoroughly efficient system of direct rule means, may be seen in the 
"new territories" of Hong-Kong. In the matter of land alone, 40,000 acres are 
divided into 350,000 separate lots, classified and described in 87 bulky volumes, 
which for working purposes are condensed into 9. 24,000 receipts for rent are 
issued yearly, the average value being Is. The preparation of the annual rent- 
roll, and the collection of the rents, are tasks of some magnitude. — Hong-Kong 
Land Reports. 


and to ignore, and allow their subordinates to ignore, the 
principal chief. It has been iacreased in many cases by 
the influx of alien natives, who, when it suited them, set at 
naught the native authority, and refused to pay the tribute 
wMch the chiefs were given no means of enforcing, or acquired 
lands which they held in defiance of native customary tenure. 

But the main cause of the great change which is taking 
place in the social conditions of African life is to be foimd 
in the changed outlook of the African himself. There is, as 
a writer in ' New Europe ' says, " something fantastically 
inconceivable about the pohcy of keeping the forces and ideas 
of the modem world out of Africa," and it is the negation of 
progress " to fasten down upon the African his own past. 
. . . Over most of tropical Africa the old order of tribal 
society is dead, dying, or doomed." He is apparently speaking 
of Bast Africa.^ His views were strongly endorsed by the 
Governor, Sir P. Girouard — than whom few have shown a 
greater insight into problems of native administration. In 
his report on East Africa for 1909-10, Sir P. Girouard enumer- 
ates the various agencies which are " breaMng down the tribal 
systems, denationalising the native, and emancipating him 
from the rule of his chief." " There are not lacking," he 
writes, " those who favour direct British rule ; but if we 
allow the tribal authority to be ignored or broken, it will 
mean that we, who numerically form a small minority in 
the country, shall be obUged to deal with a rabble, with 
thousands of persons in a savage or semi-savage state, all 
acting on their own impulses, and making themselves a 
danger to society generally. There could only be one end to 
such a poHcy, and that would be eventual conflict with the 
rabble." ^ 

From every side comes the same story. " For fifteen 
years," says Mr Wilson, writing of Nyasaland, " I have 
watched the tribal system breaking up — ^nothing could infuse 
new Ufe iato it." And with the rapid changes the native 
character has deteriorated. Stealing and burglary are rife, 
and the old village discipline and respect for chiefs has gone.' 

' 'The African MandateB,' by Fulani bin Fulani. 'New Europe,' 7th and 14th 
July 1919. See also "Afrioanus" in the 'African Society's Journal,' January 1921, 
p. 98. 

^ Cd. 5467 of 1911, pp. 39 and 47. For a description of the system adopted, 
see Official Handbook 1216, p. 243. 

^ ' East and West,' January 1921. 


In the West we find the mine manager with his wife and 
flower-garden established in a district which a year or two 
ago was the inaccessible fastness of a cannibal tribe. Ladies 
in mission schools teach nude savage children the elements 
of geography and arithmetic. The smattering of knowledge 
and caricature of the white man's ways acquired by these 
children react on their village, and upset tribal customs and 
authority. A few years ago one would find communities in 
which no individual had ever been twenty nules from his 
home. To-day the young men migrate in hundreds to offer 
their labour at the mines or elsewhere, and return with strange 
ideas. Some perhaps have even been overseas from West to 
East Africa during the war. 

The produce of the village loom, or dye-pit, or smithy, 
is discounted by cheap imported goods, and the craftsman's 
calling is not what it was. Traders, white and black, circulate 
under the pax Britannica among tribes but recently addicted 
to head-hunting, and bring to them new and strange concep- 
tions. The primitive African is called upon to cope with 
ideas a thousand years in advance of his mental and social 
equipment. " He cannot proceed leisurely along the road 
to progress. He must be hurried along it, or the free and 
independent savage will sink to the level of the helot and the 

Here, then, in my view, Ues our present task in Africa. 
It becomes impossible to maintain the old order — ^the urgent 
need is for adaptation to the new — to build up a tribal au- 
thority with a recognised and legal standing, which may 
avert social chaos. It cannot be accomplished by super- 
seding — ^by the direct rule of the white man — such ideas of 
discipline and organisation as exist, nor yet by " stereotyping 
customs and institutions among backward races which are 
not consistent with progress." ^ 

The first step is to hasten the transition from the patri- 
archal to the tribal stage, and induce those who acknowledge 
no other authority than the head of the family to recognise 
a common chief. Where this stage has already been reached, 
the object is to group together small tribes, or sections of a 
tribe, so as to form a single administrative imit, whose chiefs 
severally, or in Council as a " Kative Court" (see chapter 
xxviii.), may be constituted a "Native Authority," with 

1 Debate on Coloaial Offioe^vote, 26th April 1920. 


defined powers over native aliens, through whom the district 
ofBcer can work instead of through alien subordinates. His 
task is to strengthen the authority of the chiefs, and encourage 
them to show initiative ; to learn their difficulties at first 
hand, and to assist them in adapting the new conditions to 
the old — maintaining and developing what is best, avoiding 
everything that has a tendency to denationalisation and ser- 
vile imitation. He can guide and control several such units, 
and endeavour gradually to bring them to the standard of 
an advanced community. In brief, tribal cohesion, and the 
education of the tribal heads in the duties of rulers, are the 
watchwords of the poUcy in regard to these backward races. 
As the unit shows itself more and more capable of conducting 
its own afilairs, the direct rule, which at first is temporarily 
unavoidable among the most backward of all, wiU decrease, 
and the community will acquire a legal status, which the 
European and the native agent of material development must 
recognise. " The old easy-going days, when the probity of 
the individual was sufficient title to rule, are gone. . . . 
Intelligent interest, imagination, comprehension of alien minds 
— these are the demands of to-day." 

To this end the institution of the tax is the first begin- 
ning. It marks the recognition by the commimity of the 
Suzerainty of the protecting Power, and the corresponding 
obligation to refrain from lawless acts. Failure to impose 
it is regarded as a sign of weakness or of fear. The pay- 
ment of " tribute " to a chief marks the transition from the 
patriarchal to the tribal stage. It forms no burden, and is 
only refused if a community deliberately desires to throw 
off aU restraint and revert to lawlessness, in which case 
coercive measures become inevitable for the protection of the 
law-abiding. The most experienced Eesidents declare that 
it is not resented, and is a definite curb on the impulse to 
attack traders. 

Throughout the whole of the British African tropics (except 
the Gold Coast) the sum levied on the pagan tribes is a sub- 
stantial one, but in Northern Mgeria it has generally been 
nominal in amount,^ and there at any rate it cannot be said 
to have been without a substantial equivalent, in the pro- 
motion of trade and prosperity, in the construction of roads, 

^ It was at first fixed at 3d. per annum per adult — or at most at 6d. — and 
later somewhat increased. In many protectorates it ranges up to 10s. or £1. 


in the begiimings of education, and in the suppression of 
slave-raiding. " Since you have stopped slave-raiding," said 
a pagan chief to a Eesident, " we are wiUing to do or give 
what you hke." 

The iaauguration of a treasury, in like manner, though 
admittedly beyond the grasp of such peoples, is the embryo 
conception which will later develop with education, and they 
are quick to reaUse that the salaried chiefs and sub-chiefs 
are not merely paid officers of the Government, but receive 
a portion of the funds which they themselves collect from the 
people. They do not exist merely to collect an aUen tax 
as the agents of Government, but are selected as men who 
will be trusted and followed by their people, and capable of 
expressing their opinions. Among the primitive communities 
it suffices that the share of the tax should be sufficient to 
meet their salaries only, so long as they are incapable of 
understanding or exercising any judgment regarding other ex- 
penditure. Without a tax there can be no treasury, and with- 
out a treasury no real eventual measure of self-rule. The impo- 
sition of a tax at a later stage of development would be resented 
as a breach of faith, and would generally lead to trouble. 

It is not necessary that these embryo administrations 
should follow closely the model adopted for the Moslem 
communities, if any more natural line presents itself. Ex- 
perience in the advanced pagan commtmities will suggest 
divergencies. For, as I have said, there is no desire to impose 
on the people any theoretically suitable form of government, 
but rather to evolve from their own institutions, based on 
their own habits of thought, prejudices, and customs, the 
form of rule best suited to them, and adapted to meet the 
new conditions. 

Direct British rule among primitive tribes, unaccompanied 
by any tax, may perhaps, if a fully adequate staff is pro- 
vided, be the least troublesome, and temporarily at any rate 
the most efficient — albeit the most costly — method. But it 
shirks the more difficult task of education, and when the time 
comes — as it inevitably will come — and the people demand a 
voice in the control of their own affairs, we shaU find — as we 
find in India to-day — ^that we have destroyed the natural 
institutions of the country, that we have sapped the founda- 
tions of native rule, and have taught them only the duty of 
obedience. We can then only offer an ahen system, evolved 


by Western nations to suit wholly different circumstances, 
moulded on European and not on native habits of thought. 

The Moslem Emir of Yola and his Council showed, I think, 
a better appreciation of these principles than the critics I 
have quoted. The natural instinct of a Eulani, they said, 
when he has got over his fear of the pagans, is to treat them 
as slaves, and he would then either be murdered by them or 
convicted of oppression by Government. " If they think you 
are trying to make them Pulani or Moslems they resent it. 
I would not put a Pulani headman to live in their coimtry, 
but he should constantly tour amongst them, and advise the 
pagan chief, and tell all the people that they may appeal to 
him, but he should not go behind his back." The Waziri 
added : " As the British govern us through ourselves, so we 
must govern the pagans through their own chiefs. If we 
think we can deal directly with the pagan peasantry, we are 
deceived. We should know nothing of what is going on, and 
we should do no good." This view was not dictated by a 
desire to please, for it was apparently opposed to the policy 
of the Eesident at the time. How striking is this advance 
from the methods of the Pulani conquerors. 

It is of the first importance that the chiefs should be elected 
by the community from among themselves, and be men of 
influence and strength of character, neither middleinen traders 
selected for their wealth nor Moslems. It is preferable also 
not to employ the latter as judges of the courts, or teachers 
in the schools, even though progress be slower. If the selec- 
tion of an alien is inevitable he should not be allowed to 
retain any armed following. The District Officer must be 
tolerant of misrule due to inexperience in a chief who promises 
well, and avoid damaging his prestige and influence. 

In order to develop a system suited to their needs, the 
District Officer must study their customs and social organisa- 
tions ; for without a knowledge of their institutions the re- 
sult must be failure. These in some tribes take the form 
of a classification by age, the youths being circumcised in 
batches, each of which forms a class with special duties 
and standing.^ Most tribes develop a number of societies 

^ The senior class among the Ibos of West Africa — who number several millions 
—form the ' ' Akang " club, the juniors the ' ' Ekpe " club. The clubs give enter- 
tainments, and arrange for batches of labourers when required, &c. Compare 
Sir C. Eliot's description of the age-classes of the Masai in East Africa, loc. cit, , 
p. 136, and Handbook 1216, p. 241. 


with secret ritual, whicli -will usually be found to have their 
origin in some sound principle, such as the maintenance of 
discipline among lawless sections or the promotion of tribal 

In some cases it is reported that a society which formerly 
existed for purposes of extortion, or even murder and human 
sacrifice, has, owing to the native court system, which allows 
of trial in open court, become innocuous. In other cases 
the power wielded by those who conduct the secret ritual 
may have caused the society to degenerate iato a cruel Fetish 
cult, destroying its value as a social organisation. Or its 
prestige and influence may have been misused to cover 
the crimes or the greed of individuals, or a tribal " age-class " 
may have adopted a ritual, and formed a society inimical to 
the interest of the community. Careful iavestigation is neces- 
sary to distinguish between Fetish cults, which exist to ter- 
rorise the people by human sacrifice and witchcraft (such as 
the " Chuku Juju " of the Aros, or the alleged " Human 
Leopard Society " of Sierra Leone), and those which have 
their origin in social customs, and may afford a framework 
which, when divested of its harmful accretions, is capable of 
development and understood by the people — ^to which class 
very probably the " Ogboni " may belong. 

These primitive tribes — as we shall see when disclissing the 
courts — are capable, even in their present stage, of settling 
ordinary social disputes in a tribunal composed of chiefs — 
which, in default of rulers of sufficient individual importance 
and prestige, it is often necessary to endow with executive 
powers as the " Native Authority." 

Turning now from the detailed discussion of the applica- 
tion of this system to advanced communities on the one hand, 
and to primitive tribes on the other, let us glance at its 
results and the criticisms it has evoked. I think that there very hopefid possibilities for the future in the develop- 
ment of the " Native Administrations " of Mgeria. Already 
they bear a large share in the cost of the schools ; they are 
showing an increasing interest in the establishment of dis- 
pensaries, in the sanitation of the great cities, and in leper 
settlements. Some, especially Sokoto, have taken a keen 
interest in afforestation and artesian weU-boring. Kano, in 
view of its congested population, has developed a scheme of 
Tough-and-ready delimitation of farm lands by native sur- 


veyors. Special classes for training youths in agriculture, 
forestry, veterinary work, and survey wiU provide young men 
(drawn from the provinces which need them) with some 
technical training for service under the native administra- 

The steady increase in the material prosperity of the 
peasantry of the Moslem Emirates is the frequent theme of 
the Eesidents' annual reports, and though this cannot be 
attributed solely — or even primarily — to the system of native 
administration, there can be no doubt that this system has 
had a large share in the result. The growing wealth of the 
people renders possible a steady iQcrease iu the tax, with a 
corresponding addition to the fimds available for local develop- 
ment. That the system has been successful is proved by the 
contentment of the people and the loyalty of their chiefs. 
The Emirs and their councillors appreciate the liberality of 
the Government policy and the genuine sympathy of the 
Eesidents, and any breach of the peace has come to be looked 
on as an almost impossible occurrence. A perusal of the latest 
reports (1917-18) from his Eesidents cannot but fiU the Lieut.- 
Governor of the northern provinces with satisf action. ^ 

The war, however, put the system to the crucial test. It 
was well known that Britain was fighting agaiust Turkey, 
a Moslem State with whom the Senussi, whose emissaries 
from TripoU find easy access to Nigeria, was in active alliance. 
A great rising took place ra the vast regions under French 
rule bordering Mgeria to the north. Eeports, fully credited 

1 I make a few extracts at random. Kano reports an increase of £32,000 in 
the revenue, and 1000 miles of unmetalled or partially metalled roads fit for light 
motors. Zaria, Nassarawa, lUorin, and other provinces state that the pagans, 
who for generations have lived ou the hill-tops to escape the raids of the Fulani, 
and from their inaccessible eyries have been a menace to traders, are Increasingly 
coming down to live peacefully in the plains in well-planned villages. In Zaria 
the revenue has quadrupled in four years ; the facilities of the bank are used for 
surplus funds. The Mallamai take pride in their work, and now keep registers 
of births, deaths, and migrations. Sanitary reform includes the use of incinera- 
tors and refuse-bins. Sokoto reports a like progress in sanitation, and adds that 
the population has nearly trebled since the British advent in 1903, due largely to 
immigration over the frontier. Village heads report to the district head and to 
the native courts cases of cattle disease, breach of isolation rules, and any 
robberies in their vicinity. The prisons are admirably kept, the prisoners well 
cared for, and the discipline good. The officials of the native administration 
work cordially with those of the Government, both executive and judicial, and 
the " i)ojrarai " afford all assistance to the police. The credit of inaugurating 
and giving practical and successful effect to this method belongs wholly to the 
Residents and their staff — Messrs Temple, Goldsmith, Gowers, Amett, Gall, 
Palmer, among others. 


by the French themselves, reached the country that Agades 
— ^the desert capital — ^had faUen before a Moslem army well 
equipped with cannon. Hostile forces were said to be rapidly 
advancing towards Sokoto. The French asked our assistance. 
Half our own forces, and most of the oflBcers well known to 
the natives, had already gone to East Africa. But not for a 
moment was there the slightest doubt of the loyalty of the 
Emirs. The garrison of Kano itself was withdrawn, and re- 
placed by police. Sokoto and Katsena, the border States, 
were eager to raise native levies to assist. 

Each year of the war the native treasuries offered £50,000 
towards its cost. The last year they subscribed £11,000 to 
the Eed Cross Fund — ^the Sultan of Sokoto preferring that 
he and his chiefs should subscribe from their private means 
for such a purpose rather than from the pubUc treasury. Daily 
prayers in aU the mosques were offered for the victory of the 
King's arms. 

Dr Solf, when Minister for the Colonies ia Berhn, visited 
Nigeria. He expressed to Mr Harcourt his appreciation of 
our methods, and wrote to me (for I was absent at the time) 
that he intended to adopt them in the German Cameruns. 

The system described has, of course, like every other 
possible system, found its critics and opponents. The edu- 
cated native very naturally dislikes it, for it places the native 
chief, who has no schoolroom education, and is probably 
ignorant even of the English language, ia a position of 
authority over his people, and tends to make him independent 
of the educated native lawyer or adviser. 

The criticism of Europeans is, so far as I am aware, chiefly 
confined to those who have not had personal experience of 
its working, or adequate opportunity to examine for them- 
selves the truths of statements they have read in the native 
press. Bishop TugweU, whose long and faithful service in 
West Africa has chiefly laia in the coast area and its imme- 
diate hiaterland, writes : " ' Indirect rule ' is direct rule by 
indirect means. The Emir's position and salary are secure. 
His sway, backed by British authority, is rendered absolute, 
while his people become his serfs, or those of the British 
Government. Their life is thus robbed of aU initiative or 
desire for progress — ^intellectual, social, moral, reUgious, or 
pohtical." The Emir, he adds, who is appointed by the 
Government, is the instrument of the Eesident, and " the 


name of Christ must not be proclaimed lest this blighting 
system should be overtiimed." 

The statement is inaccurate, lor there are very many cases 
on record in Mgeria, extending from the earliest beginnings 
of British rule in the north up to the present day, where not 
only the highest ofl&cials of the native administration have 
been deprived of their positions and subjected to the rigours 
of the law for misconduct, but even Emirs and principal 
chiefs have been deposed for misrule. As regards the peas- 
antry, it is incontestable that they have never enjoyed such 
liberty and material prosperity as they now possess, such 
security of land tenure and immunity from oppression. The 
new Government schools are opening up avenues for intel- 
lectual and social progress. (See chap, xxii.) With the 
question of Christian propaganda in Moslem States I shall 
deal in a later chapter. 

But Bishop TugweU, unconsciously perhaps, gives imper- 
fect expression to an aspect of the matter on which I have 
already touched. It was naturally a cause for anxiety and 
misgiving that the British Government, by supporting native 
rule, and the authority of the native courts, should accept 
some measure of responsibility for evils which its meagre 
staff of British officials was unable to control adequately, 
seeing that the one was exercised by men who had behind 
them a century's tradition of such tyranny and oppression 
as I have described, and the other had become corrupt and 
inflicted barbarous sentences. To overthrow an organisation, 
however faulty, which has the sanction of long usage, and is 
acquiesced in by the people, before any system could be 
created to take its place — ^before, indeed, we had any precise 
knowledge of Moslem methods or of native law and custom 
— would have been an act of folly which no sane adminis- 
trator could attempt. The very necessity for avoiding pre- 
cipitate action, and the knowledge that reform could only 
be effective, and enlist native co-operation, if it was gradual, 
made the responsibility all the more onerous. To infer that 
it was not realised, or was lightly regarded, is to do a great 
injustice to the administrative staff of the early Government 
of Northern Mgeria, who struggled to cope with a burden 
which taxed them beyond their strength. Some died, and 
some left with health impaired. 

That the supervision exercised was insufficient, in spite 


of their efforts, is a reasonable criticism, for the staff was 
quite inadequate. In the year 1903-4, in which the whole 
of the Moslem States first came under British control, Northern 
Mgeria provided in its budget for forty-four administrative 
officers.^ Of these, as I have shown (p. 141), we can only 
assume that a half were actually at work. Thus in the fourth 
year after the administration was inaugurated there was only 
about one officer available for each 11,600 square miles and 
400,000 head of population — and most of them very young 
and new to the work ! 

On amalgamation with Southern Nigeria in 1914 I had 
hoped that the finances would at last admit of an adequate 
provision of staff, and of decent houses for them to Mve in. 
But the Great War broke out, and the staff was again depleted 
below the uttermost safety limit, to allow every possible 
officer to join the fighting forces. The conditions have re- 
tarded progress in the pagan areas, and must be borne in 
mind by those who criticise the inadequacy of supervision 
in the past. 

That the system is inapphcable to communities of Euro- 
peanised natives educated on Western lines is admitted. The 
method of their progress towards self-government lies, as I 
have said, along the same path as that of Europeans — ^in- 
creased participation in municipal affairs untU they prove 
themselves fitted for the larger responsibilities of Government 
of their own commimities, by a majority vote in the councils, 
by popidar election, and by appointment to posts of respon- 
sibility in the Civil Service. 

A local criticism is that the natives are taught to look to 
the District Officer only, that the latter is intolerant of any 
departmental officer exercising authority in his district, and 
that it is impossible for a departmental officer to feel a keen 
interest in his work, and achieve the best results, if he is 
practically dependent on a jimior administrative officer, and 
can get nothing done without reference to him. 

The reply is that orders to the local headman emanate, 
not from the District Officer, but from his own chief (to whom 
any wishes of Goverimient in the matter are communicated 
by the Eesident). The District Officer, who knows the head- 
men personally and speaks their language, is the natural and 
best means that the departmental officer can employ for 

1 ' Gazette ' of 30th April 1903. 


making his demands known, and obtaining the sendees of an 
agent from the chief to procure labour, &c. In technical 
details he gives his orders direct. In case of difficulty it is 
not to the District Officer but to his own chief that the head- 
man appeals for instructions. The chief in turn only invokes 
the advice or intervention of the Eesident if he needs it. 

Our experience in India (to which I alluded in the last 
chapter) seems to me to afford a strildng confirmation of the 
principles which underlie the policy I have advocated. " Brit- 
ish India " (comprising nearly two-thirds of the country and 
over three-quarters of its population) has been subjected to 
direct British rule, which foreign critics have praised as a 
model of efficiency. But when the inevitable time arrived, 
and India demanded a measure of self-government, the bases 
on which it had rested for centuries are found to have been 
destroyed, and to-day the situation in British India is described 
as the most serious with which England has ever been con- 
fronted, for the policy of the past rated administrative efficiency 
more highly than education in self-government. 

In the remaining part of India we have ruled indirectly 
through the native princes. The limitations to their inde- 
pendence were less onerous than those which are necessary 
in Africa,^ for they were the inheritors of an ancient civilisa- 
tion, and their relations with the Suzerain Power were estab- 
lished by treaty, and not by conquest. The conditions which 
obtain in their territories to-day are in marked contrast with 
the disorder around them. Their progress has been fostered 
by the tactful and devoted guidance of the British Eesidents 
at their courts.^ Their loyalty has been so unquestioned that 
of late years they have been encouraged to maintain standing 
armies of their own, which have been freely placed at the 
service of Government, and we have ceded to them fortresses 
such as GwaUor, which we formerly maintained to overawe 
them. Their institutions and enlightened rule rival those of 
British India. Their peasantry are said to be happier and 
more satisfied under the rule of their own chiefs than under 
the system of direct rule. 

' See Ilbert, loc. dt., chap. ii. pp. 141-145, and chap. vii. 

2 It was not till 1909 that Lord Minto directed that Residents should no longer 
press reforms upon the native rulers. Their policy in future was to be one of 
non-interference in internal affairs. Direct British rule continued, however, to 
be exercised when the heir was a minor, and his education was the care of the 
Suzerain Power. 


In Egypt European " advisers " were appointed to the 
various Ministries in Cairo, whose tittdar head was an Egyp- 
tian, and this system was extended to the provincial " Mndi- 
rates." Even under the watchful eye of Lord Cromer — ^tied 
as he was to headquarters at Cairo— the tendency for these 
"inspectors," as they were infelicitously called, to assume 
the rdle of de facto rulers, had already become marked. The 
mudirs, as Lord MUner observed ^ (writing in 1892), " did 
not so much miad taking orders themselves, if it was clearly 
tmderstood that they alone were entitled to give orders to 
their subordinates. ' TeU us what you want done,' they say 
to their foreign monitors, ' and we wUl take care that your 
wishes are carried out, but do not attempt to see to their 
execution yourself.' " This is the whole difference between 
direct rule and rule through the native rulers. Until it has 
become a tradition, enshrined in precise written instructions 
(necessarily somewhat detailed), and maintained by constant 
personal touch between the head of the Government and his 
administrative officers, the tendency of the energetic, capable 
British officer to overstep his rdle as adviser will inevitably 
assert itself. " Instances, however, were not wanting (in 
Egypt) in which Englishmen have got on thoroughly weU 
with provincial Governors, and come to be regarded by them 
as friends and helpmates, and not as spies and intruders." 
Lord Milner emphasises the absolute necessity of supervision 
and control over native officials. " The whole problem," he 
says, " is how to exercise this control, which is indispensable, 
without destroying the prestige of the permanent officials, 
which is equally indispensable." The problem could not 
have been better or more concisely stated.^ 

With the passing of Lord Cromer, the tendency to direct 
rule by the inspectors, appointed " to advise the Advisers," 
became more pronounced, and junior inspectors assumed the 
right to dictate to the mudirs, on whom in theory the respon- 
sibility rests.^ 

1 'England in Egypt,' p. 110-111. 2 ib;<j^ p_ 334, 

' See articles on "Egyptian Unrest," 'Times,' 9th September 1919,jand7th 
January 1920. The writer proposes that the British staff should become executive 
officers, responsible to their Egyptian official superiors — the mudirs — who are 
again controlled by the Egyptian Ministers with their British advisers. I have 
ventured to suggest that, however anxious both might be to fulfil their obliga- 
tions with loyalty, nothing but disharmony and friction could result from such a 
system, and the best qualities of both would be nullified. — (Letter to ' Times,' 
16th September 1919, with which Lord Milner expressed to me his general con- 


Foreign nations have never, so far as I am aware, adopted 
a policy similar to that of Great Britain, in whose colonies, 
even where direct rule by British officers is maintained, the 
native chiefs retain their titular positions, and are allowed 
the exercise of restricted powers. In French West Africa 
chiefs are appointed as Government officials, but there is no 
organisation of former native kingdoms under their traditional 
rulers, as in Nigeria or Uganda. On the contrary, the sons of 
former native chiefs are deprived of all titles of sovereignty. 

As native officials they are employed in matters of sanita- 
tion, the levying of taxes, road construction, engagement of 
labour, &c., and in subordinate posts under the Government. 
A portion of Senegal is 'governed directly and exclusively by 
white officials. Though the older conception of the assimila- 
tion of the native races appears to be giving place to one of 
trusteeship, the quondam native rulers remain mere subordi- 
nates of the Europeans, who conduct the native affairs.^ The 
French system proceeds on the hypothesis that the colonies 
are an integral part of France, and its inhabitants French- 
men, with consequent Uability to conscription, &c. We learn, 
however, that the secret of General Lyautey's success in 
Morocco is that he introduced collaboration with the native 
chiefs, and the principle of dual administration between the 
protector and the protected, and by this means he everywhere 
conciliated the populations he subdued.^ 

The object of substituting for British rule, in which the 
chiefs are mere agents of the Government, a system of native 
rule under the guidance and control of the British staff, 
whether among advanced or backward communities, is pri- 
marily educative.^ Among backward tribes the chiefs have 

currence). The mudir should take his orders only from his official chief, the 
Egyptian Minister, and he alone should give orders to the village sheikhs. The 
British inspector tenders advice, and sees that abuses do not exist, and should be 
responsible only to his British chief — the adviser to the Minister. In the Sudan 
Egyptians and Sudanese are appointed as mamurs (police officers, and magistrates 
of districts), and their numbers are increasing. Foreign Office Handbook 98, p. 60. 

1 Foreign Office Handbook No. 100, 1920, pp. 6 and 10. 

2 ' La France au Maroc,' Berthe Georges Gaulis. 

' Mr Qilmour, reviewing in the ' African Society's Journal ' (April 1912) two 
books 1 in which this system of native rule was described, thus summarises : 
" Like a silver thread the proposition of the paramount importance of helping 
the African to become a better African, and not endeavouring to turn him into 
a caricature of a European, runs through both books, and is obviously regarded 

1 'Tlie Making of Northern Nigeria," Captain Orr. 'Nigeria, its Peoples and Problems," 
B. D. Morel. 


to learn how to exert and maintain authority, and establish 
a chain of responsibility reaching down to the village head. 
Among the more advanced their interest is directed to educa- 
tion, forestry, sanitation, prevention of disease, and public 
works. In aU alike the endeavour is to prevent denationalisa- 
tion, to develop along indigenous hnes, to inculcate the 
principle that the function of the ruler is to promote the 
welfare of his people and not to exploit them for his own 
pleasure, and to afford both to rulers and people the stimulus 
of progress and interest in life. 

by both authors aa the fundamental proposition o{ the Nigerian policy." " The 
policy of the administration," he says later, "is directed to developing the 
resources of the country, through the agency of the natives rather than by 
concessions to Europeans." 




Direct tax — The basis of native administration — Tax on Pagans accords 
with native custom — Tax in Moslem districts^ — Tax denotes progress 
— Delay in imposition inadvisable— On primitive people should be 
light — Taxation as an incentive to work — Is indirect taxation suffi- 
cient — The tax on advanced communities — Nature of the tax — 
Income and "profits" — Tax on average standard of production — 
Profits on trades other than agriculture — Rate of tax — Abuses of the 
old system : (o) Absentee landlords ; (b) Tax-gatherers ; (c) Dis- 
connected areas of jurisdiction — Summary of reforms— Disposal of 
tax — Definition of vQlage and town — Principles of assessment — Tax 
is not a land rent — Method of assessment : (a) Native officials ; 
(J) The District Officer's task — Taxation of primitive communities — 
Payment in cash, kind, or labour — By whom payable — Drastic 
changes to be avoided — Personation — The hut-tax — Contrast with 
the tax proposed — Summary of results of direct taxation — Minor 
direct taxes — Licences and market dues. 


The hut-tax 'in Africa — In Sierra Leone — Uganda — Nyasaland — East 
Africa — Northern Bhodesia — South Africa — Foreign Nations. 

1^0 system of rule can be effective — whether gOTemmental 
or mtuiicipal — ^unless it enjoys some measure of financial 
independence ; and, as I have said, the fundamental basis 
upon which the policy I have described in the last chapter 
rests, is the assignment to the native rulers of a definite 
revenue with which to pay the salaries of their officials, and 
to inaugurate schemes of development. This revenue must 
obviously be found by taxation, and ta Mgeria (to which I 
again refer in illustration, because it is the dependency which 
I know best) it is derived from a direct tax — ^based on the 
principle of an income-tax — collected through the machinery 
of the native administration, in accordance with native law and 
custom, and imder the close supervision of the British staff. 


The native rulers who share it are not therefore salaried 
officials of Government, but derive their incomes as proper 
dues from their own people, in return for their work as rulers, 
or judges, or employees of the native administration. They, 
and even the more intelligent of the peasantry, can see that 
a substantial portion of the tax is spent by themselves in 
their own immediate interests, and can appreciate the neces- 
sity of devoting the remainder to the central Government. 
They thus have an interest in its collection in fuU, and there 
is no perennial complaint of an insufficient grant for the 
maintenance of the native administration, disproportioned to 
their particular claims. 

Moreover, it is obvious that the native rulers must have 
some means of livelihood, and of maintaioing their position. 
If there be no legal and recognised tax, the necessary iucome 
must be obtained by arbitrary levies on the peasantry, subject 
to no control by Government. In the Moslem States the tax 
is the corollary of the abohtion of slavery. 

It has been asserted that, with the exception of those 
communities which have accepted the Koranic system of 
taxation, the natives of Africa are unaccustomed to, and 
radically opposed to, direct taxation, and that it is therefore 
better to adopt indirect taxation, the incidence of which they 
do not understand. 

The African is not peculiar in disliking taxes, but as soon 
as any degree of tribal cohesion is reached, the obligation to 
pay tribute to the head chief — ^generally iu the form of slaves, 
concubines, food, and unpaid labour — ^is recognised. As the 
tribe advances in organisation, and its rulers become more 
powerful and luxurious — as in such pagan communities as 
the Baganda, the Yorubas, Benis, &c. — ^the demands become 
increasingly heavy. It is probable that the Moslem con- 
querors in HsForthem Nigeria merely superimposed the Koranic 
tithe upon the pre-existiug scheme of taxation among the 
Habes. But Mahomedan rule admitted of a more systematised 

Only among the most primitive peoples, where the authority 
of a paramount chief has not yet emerged, do we find an 
entire absence of taxation, for there is no authority to demand 
or enforce it. Such communities regard the payment of 
tribute as the token of acknowledgment of a Suzerain, with 
the consequent obligation to refrain from murders and rob- 


beries. Provided that it is not collected by alien native tax- 
gatherers, and is not unduly onerous, they do not appear to 
resent its imposition ; and, as I have said in the last chapter, 
refusal to pay is usually a formal and deliberate prelude to 
an outbreak of lawlessness. 

A direct tax is not therefore contrary to native custom 
or prejudices among those who have reached the tribal stage,* 
and the disUke of it is not due to any objection to the prin- 
ciple, but to the imposition of a tax in addition to, instead of 
in substitution for, the tribute. The Yorubas, who at first 
resented it strongly, asked for its imposition when they 
imderstood the system, and the hostility of the Pulani was 
similarly converted to a whole-hearted co-operation. 

The tax imposed by aUen Moslem conquerors on those who 
adopted the Faith was the Koranic tithe, with a much more 
onerous levy on conquered pagans (which was doubled in 
case of rebellion), while imconquered tribes were regarded as 
slave preserves. With the growth of luxury the tendency is 
for the rich and powerful to evade it, while the peasantry, 
even though nominally Moslems, are subjected to increasing 
burdens. The rulers no longer lead in war, the Jihad de- 
generates into the slave-raid, and the tax is collected by 
deputy, while the chiefs live in luxury at the capital, sur- 
rounded by slaves, eunuchs, and concubines. The erstwhile 
leaders of the armies become fief -holders farming the taxes 
of large districts, or particular cities, and appointing then- 
relatives and favourites as their deputies.* 

The payment of direct taxes is in Africa, as elsewhere, an 
unwelcome concomitant of progress. It marks the recognition 
of the principle that each individual in proportion to his 
means has an obUgation to the State, to which he owes security 

" Sir W. Macgregor, who expressed this view, nevertheless recognised the 
obligation to pay the customary direct tribute to the chiefs, and himself under- 
took to reassess it among the lUeshas, when it had lapsed owing to the decay of 
tribal authority consequent on the advent of the British ('Gazette,' 16/1/04). 
The regular tribute among the Yorubas and Illeshas, paid by both men and 
women, is said to have varied from 6s. to 10s. It was supplemented by obligatory 
personal service, and there were special taxes, including death-duties. 

2 These were the characteristics of the decadence of Fulani domination in 
Northern Nigeria, which necessitated its overthrow by the British administration. 
The Sultan of Sokoto admitted that the fall of the Fulani dynasty was a just 
punishment for their misrule. All kinds of additional and irregular taxes — on 
special classes or on particular crops or possessions— had been introduced. The 
ancient kingdom of Bornu appears to have approached to something like an 
income-tax and death duties. 


for life and property, and his increased wealth, — due to fair 
wages for his labour, improved transport, and a large com- 
petitive market for his produce. 

By its means the upper classes can be paid salaries for 
public work ; slavery, forced labour, and all other forms of 
exactions from the peasantry can be declared Ulegal without 
reducing the ruling classes to poverty. The freed slave, on 
his part, renders to the State a small and fixed proportion 
of the profits of his industry. The tax may thus in a sense 
be regarded as a means of promoting the recognition of in- 
dividual responsibility, which is inseparable from liberty, but 
is destroyed by the system of slavery. It was by this means 
that in Mgeria we sought a solution of the difficulties attendant 
on the aboHtion of the legal status of slavery, and to support 
the ruling classes while protecting the peasantry. 

It emancipates justice by freeing the salaried native judge 
from the temptation of bribes and unjust fines. It lightens 
the heavy burdens on trade, both by rendering possible the 
abolition of the tolls levied by native rulers, by decreasing 
the amount which must otherwise be raised by customs, 
and by promoting, as no other agency can, the introduc- 
tion of coin currency. The task of assessment promotes an 
intimate touch between the British staff and the native 
officials who assist in it on the one hand, and the inhabitants 
of remote and almost inaccessible villages on the other hand, 
who but for this assessment might have remained unknown. 
The District Officer comes as the herald of a just and equitable 
tax to replace extortion. 

Among unorganised communities, not previously subject 
to tax, where native rulers cannot be said to exist, the tax 
affords a means of creating and enforcing native authority, 
of curbing lawlessness, and assisting ia tribal evolution, and 
hence it becomes a moral benefit, and is justified by the 
immimity from slave-raids which the people now enjoy. 

Though the project of instituting a tax before the intro- 
duction of a coin currency should have afforded a means of 
converting it into revenue seemed at first impossible, I soon 
became convinced that postponement would be a weak and 
short-sighted policy, which would render the eventual neces- 
sity all the harder of attainment. For the time must come, 
as it has come to every community in the world, when some 
form of direct tax for revenue purposes must be imposed. 


That necessity has been recognised (with, I believe, the sole 
exception of the Gold Coast) by every administration in British 
and foreign tropical Africa. If delayed, its imposition is 
certain to be resented, and to lead to trouble and bloodshed. 
If it is imposed at once it is recognised as part of the white 
man's rule, and accepted as such. The inauguration of British 
rule is the moment at which to lay the foundations, not merely 
in view of subsequent necessities for revenue, but in order to 
establish the principle of personal contribution to the State 
in proportion to wealth, to which I have referred. 

But though the principle in my view should be asserted 
at the outset, it is of no less importance that the tax should 
in primitive communities be very light at first, since it is 
there intended to be educative rather than a source of revenue. 
If it is in principle an income tax (though in a primitive com- 
munal society it becomes a poll-tax) it will automatically be 
proportioned to the ability to pay. It wiU correspond in some 
degree with the expenditure incurred in the district. Now 
that new territories are falling under British control by the 
Mandate of the Powers, it is worth while to emphasise the 
necessity both for the early imposition of the tax, and for 
making it a Ught one. 

There are those who advocate direct taxation primarily as 
a means of compelling the natives to work. This was the 
underlying principle of a clause in Mr Ehodes' " Glen Grey 
Act " (which, however, provided that the proceeds of the 
tax should be appUed to their own benefit).^ Mr Chamberlain 
ridiculed the idea that the South African method was akin 
to slavery. The native, he considered, should be made to 
work, because he had for so long forced his women to work 
in order that he might live in idleness. The substitution 
of labour for the payment of a tax, or the imposition of a 
heavier tax if the native cannot prove that he has worked 
for a specified time, are expedients which ia the past have 
been adopted elsewhere. 

If, as has been alleged regarding natives restricted to 
Eeserves, the males of a community are found to be living 
in habitual idleness and drunkenness, special taxation may 
perhaps be justified in their own best interests ; but in that 
case the native should be free to earn the money by working 

^ The clause remained a dead letter for eleven years, and was then formally 
repealed. — B. Williams' 'Life of Cecil Rhodes,' p. 212. 


on his own land, or by offering his labour to whom he chooses. 
The object in view would be the education of the native, 
not the procuring of labour for Government or European 
employers, or the increase of revenue.^ I shaU recur to this 
subject in the chapter on labour. 

Under normal conditions the African rarely needs com- 
pulsion to work, and this is not the object of the tax I have 
proposed, but in so far as the tax stimulates productive 
industry, and compels a man, as in England, to provide an 
extra margin wherewith to meet the obligation, or if it 
diminishes the large surplus of the grain crops, which among 
many pagan tribes is set aside for brewing hquor with 
which to indulge in frequent drunken orgies, its effect can 
only be good (pp. 603-4). 

It was reported in IsTorthem Mgeria that in districts where 
taxes had formerly been paid to the Pulani but had lapsed, 
considerable areas had gone out of cultivation, and the male 
population, deprived, as in South Africa, of its principal 
occupation of fighting, had taken to drinking and quarrelling. 
In Southern Mgeria the tribute to the chiefs had in many 
cases been discontinued on the advent of the British, and 
tribal aiuthority had consequently been weakened. The High 
Commissioner of Uganda expressed the view that the direct 
tax " will prove to be the making of the country, not only 
because of the revenue it brings, but because of the habits 
of work it inculcates, which are rapidly altering one of the 
natxiral characteristics of the people." 

It may be asked whether, so far as revenue is concerned, 
a sufficient sum could not be raised both for Government 
requirements and to support the native administration, by 
indirect taxation ? The only substantial source of revenue 
from indirect taxation accrues from customs duties. It is 
not possible that such duties should provide a revenue ade- 
quate for the needs of the Government, and none at all could 
be spared for native administration. In Mgeria the customs 
duties were estimated in 1919 to provide less than a third 
(29| per cent) of the total revenue (including the sums re- 
tained by the native administrations), in spite of the fact 

' See chapter xix. Lord Milner in the Transvaal, and Sir G. Lagden in 
Basutoland, both agreed that the primary object of the tax should not be to 
compel labour. Lord Milner's later pronouncements as Seci'etary of State, both 
in a despatch published as a White-book and in the debate in the House of 
Lords, are quoted in the chapter referred to. 


that they had been recently increased by a third, by special 
export duties which were not iatended to be permanent.^ 
In East Africa — ^taking a naean between the years 1913-14 
(pre-war) and 1917-18 — the customs provided only 13| per 
cent of the revenue ^ — ^in the Sudan only 12 per cent.* 

The trade of the tropics consists of the export of raw 
materials in exchange for manufactured goods, and customs 
duties offer the simplest and cheapest form of taxation, but 
they have their limits. Though a necessary adjunct, they 
retard the development of trade, and fall very unequally on 
the population. Provinces distant from the sea and the 
railway consume the minimum of customable goods, and 
hence pay but little indirect tax, though they are the most 
costly to administer by reason of the heavy transport charges. 
Other forms of indirect taxation, of which fines and fees of 
court are probably the most considerable, are not easily 

Where direct taxes already exist, the object in view is to 
consohdate them into a single annual payment, based on 
native law and custom and the indigenous institutions of 
the country, while ensuring that the sum demanded is just 
and reasonable, and that the method of collection is such as 
will distribute the burden equitably in proportion to the 
wealth of the individual, and finally to see that it is clearly 
understood by chiefs and people alike that any demand in 
excess of this authorised tax is illegal. The chiefs must be 
warned that any attempt to make a larger demand — even 
indirectly as compulsory labour, or the exaction of suppUes 
or food without payment — ^will lay them open to a charge of 
extortion, and the peasantry are informed that in such a 
case they can appeal from the village to the district head, or 
in the last resort, to the Emir and the British staff. 

In the Moslem States of Northern Nigeria the immediate 
task was to consolidate the multipUcity of taxes into a single 
" general " tax, payable on a single demand after the harvest, 
and whenever possible in CTirrency instead of in Mnd. The 

' Prior to the abolition of the import of " trade spirits," an abnormal revenue 
was raised by the duties imposed on these imports, which in 1913 amounted to 
about two-thirds (64 per cent) of the total customs receipts (£1,138,000 out of 
£1,760,400). The duty was about 250 per cent ad valorem. Customs were 
51 per cent of revenue. 

' ' East African Economic Commission's Report,' p. 7. 

3 Handbook 98, p. 168. 


task of the District Ofl&cer was to assist the district and 
village headmen to assess it, year by year improving the 
graduation in proportion to wealth. It rests with the head 
of the Government to see that as far as possible some measure 
of uniformity, and of equaUty of incidence, is introduced in 
the different provinces.^ Among primitive communities, 
where no recognised tribute exists, the communal basis of 
society compels a capitation tax, but this is susceptible of 
gradual modification as rights in individual property emerge 
with the growth of tribal organisation, and of individual 
enterprise in trade. 

The tax most suitable for Africa is, in my judgment, an 
income or property tax — ^in other words, a contribution to 
the needs of the State by each individual according to his 
means, whether he be an argiculturist or a craftsman, a trader 
or a collector of sylvan produce, a nomad herdsman or a 
dweller in cities, a chief or a peasant, or, on the other hand, 
whether he be a Moslem, a Christian, or a pagan. 

It should not be levied on a man's hut or cultivated land, 
to neither of which has the State any right, and any claims 
on which he will cordially resent, but on the income or profits 
of each individual, regardless of the source from which he 
derives it. This is the basis of Mohamedan taxation accord- 
ing to the Koranic law, and is therefore in strict accord with 
native law and custom in Moslem States. It is not an 
" economic land rent." 

The vast bulk of the population of Africa are agriculturists, 
and it has been argued that if a community consumed all 

' The first tentative efltort in Northern Nigeria, before the country was fully 
brought under administrative control, was " to secure to the revenue a certain 
proportion of the taxes on land and produce levied by the native chiefs, and did 
not in any way touch the nature of those taxes or restrict the power of the 
chiefs as to the extent to which they might tyrannise over or extort from the 
peasantry." In due course, when adequate information had been collected, this 
was followed by an enactment, the object of which was "to lay down limits to 
the taxation by native chiefs, to define and legalise the various taxes, and to place 
them under the supervision of the administration, and at the same time to assign 
an adequate portion of the revenue so collected to the Government." — Governor's 
Despatch of 26th April 1905. Even if the Government were to take no share of 
the proceeds, the task of assessment and the supervision of the payment of the 
tribute is a duty which cannot be avoided, so long as the system of ruling through 
the chiefs is maintained. For "if Government enforces their demands, it must 
see to it that they are reasonable and not extortionate ; otherwise, not only 
would Government be the instrument of misrule, but revolt would take place in 
every province " ; for already, owing to the extortion of the past, the peasantry 
were declining to pay any dues whatever. — Governor's Despatch of 23rd August 


its com and stock in feeding itself, there being no profits, 
no tax could be levied, and the result woidd be that the 
industrious who produce a surplus would be penalised, and 
the idle, who only produce enough for their own wants, 
would escape taxation. Moreover, it would be exceedingly 
difficult to determine what proportion of produce and stock 
should be properly assigned to the actual needs of the culti- 

The argument has special force in a country like Africa, 
where primitive man has few wants, and lacks incentives to 
accumulate wealth, where even among the advanced communi- 
ties the bulk of the peasantry would seem to have few in- 
ducements to increase that margin of profit which among 
civihsed nations becomes a necessity. A TniniTrm m of labour 
— ^largely done by his women-kind — ^is required to build his 
hut, to weave his cloth from his own cotton, and to furnish 
his needs in food. But the African, as soon as he has ceased 
to be nomadic, and has settled down on the land,^ is not 
immune from the natural human desire to make profits.^ As 
soon as he has emerged from primeval savagery — often indeed 
before he has done so — ^he becomes a keen trader, eager in 
the pursuit of gaia. Even the least progressive are anxious 
to set aside some margin for the purchase of articles outside 
their bare necessities, — whether it be gaudy cloths and beads 
for ornament, or potent spirits, or to grow a surplus of com 
with which to brew the beer that they love. 

In order, however, to meet the case of the idle and the 
least progressive, I enacted in the " I^'ative Eevenue Proclama- 
tion " of Northern Mgeria (March 1906) that "the principle 
on which the estimate or valuation of lands shall be made, 
shall be the amount of produce or profit which can be annually 
obtained from, and the number of live-stock that can be 
annually raised and supported on such land, by a person 
cultivatiag and using the same, in the manner and up to the 
average standard of cultivation and use prevailing in the 

1 The nomadic pastorals have, of all the peoples of Africa, the least use for 
the amenities of civilisation and the least desire to trade. They are generally 
content to go naked or clad in skins, and look to their cattle for all their 

2 See Adam Smith on profits, loc. ciL, Bk. II., chap. iii. "The desire of 
bettering our condition . . . comes with us from the womb, and never leaves us 
till we go into the grave " ; it is a " universal, continual, and uninterrupted 
efifort" (pp. 19 and 27). 


neiglibotirhood." This clause introduces the important prin- 
ciple that the tax is not an income tax pure and simple, but 
a tax on the potential proiits — ^viz., profits realisable by the 
expenditure of ordinary and normal industry and effort. It 
is described by the " Northern Nigeria Lands Committee " 
as embodying " the principles of a regular revenue assess- 
ment," which, however, owing to lack of staff and other 
reasons, had not in 1907 been appUed in their entirety. ^ 

To assess the tax due on the potential jdeld of a given 
acreage of land under cultivation, which has no special facili- 
ties of transport, or proximity to a good market, or exceptional 
water supply, &c., is not an insuperably difficult task. The 
normal yield of such land would be known, and would have a 
recognised value, varying slightly from year to year, and 
easily estimated by the village headman. This forms the 
basis so far as the agriculturist is concerned. It remains to 
ascertain how much cultivable land and stock is held by 
each farmer, and whether its value is augmented by special 
conditions. The cultivator must therefore exert himself to 
cultivate his land to at least the normal standard, so as to 
produce sufficient to pay his tax in addition to his own con- 
sumption. Agricultural " profits " therefore means the usu- 
fruct or yield of the land if cultivated to a normal standard, 
inclusive of the consumption of the owner. 

If the term " profits " be appUed to sources of income 
other than land, it means the gross revenue derived. Property 
from which revenue is derivable, though none be actually 
realised, is of course assessable to tax as in England — e.g., 
a, house inhabited by its owner. In the rough-and-ready 
system which in the early years replaces the lack of any 
system at all under a native despotism, the tax paid by the 
normal agriculturist forms the datum of assessment, and the 
peasant who lives on the same general standard, whether he 
be a craftsman or a fisherman, &c., would pay the same tax. 
It is assessed by the village headman and his council of 
elders, who are the only competent judges of the comparative 
wealth of individuals. This may to some extent be gauged 
by the number of a man's wives, his Uve-stock, and the style 
of his hut. Nomad cattle-owners can pay a fixed sum per 
head of stock. 

The rate of the tax is fixed by the Governor, and in Northern 

I Cd. 5102 of 1910, p. XV. 


Nigeria it is nominally the Koranic tithe (under the name of 
Earaji) — ^vlz., a tenth of the gross annual income ; but there 
are probably few who pay so much, and the poorer classes 
may be rated at 4 per cent to 8 per cent only. In the case 
of the small farmer it is estimated that this 10 per cent of 
gross profits is the equivalent of 25 per cent net profits (a 
ratio, I beUeve, accepted in Burma). It may be more con- 
venient to take the net income as the basis in the case of 
those who, hke traders, Uve on the profits of capital, or in 
localities where the cost of living is unduly high, but it is 
difficult to define the term. In primitive Africa, necessary 
living expenses, other than food, are negligible. 

In Northern Mgeria the highest average for a district is 
given at about 5s. to 6s. (probably equal to 9d. per cultivated 
acre) per annum, and in some pagan districts it does not 
exceed 6d. Eemissions are freely made in case of local 
failure of crops, and there are some few exemptions, such 
as the salaries of native officials of Government and of the 
native administration, ex-soldiers who have won decorations, 
and the blind and infirm. This compares favourably with 
most other tropical dependencies, where the tax is fixed at 
10s. or £1, and it is undoubtedly a great relief to the peas- 
antry. Yet the amount reaUsed (including receipts from native 
courts, &c.) has increased in fliteen years from £20,861 ia 
1904-5 1 to about a mUlion in 1919. 

It is interesting to note in what particular ways the pre- 
existing system in Northern Mgeria had become an instru- 
ment of oppression, since the only hope of continued success 
must obviously lie in avoiding such mistakes in future.^ 

Apart from the multiplicity of taxes and their undue 
severity, absentee landlordism was a fruitful source of evil. 
Alike in Uganda and in Northern Nigeria it was customary 
for a territorial chief to reside principally at the capital, 
leaving his district to be misgoverned by a deputy, or through 
agents and tax-gatherers, whose chief aim it was to squeeze 
aU they could out of the people, both on their own account, 
and in order to earn favour with their chief and retain their 

' 'Colonial Office Annual Reports,' 476 of 1905, p. 21. Lord Cromer writes 
that, " in countries such as Egypt and the Sudan, low taxation should be the 
keystone of the arch." Works, however desirable, should be postponed "rather 
than that the principle of maintaining taxes at a low figure should be in any 
degree infringed." 

^ Compare the abuses described by Lord Cromer, ' Modern Egypt,' vol. i. p. 169. 


posts. The teiritorial chief held his lands at the will of the 
paramount chief. He was afraid to be absent from the capital 
lest reports — true or false — to his disadvantage should reach 
the ear of the rvder, or some other favourite should replace 
him. The ruler on his part feared to let these powerful 
provincial chiefs out of his sight, lest they should grow inde- 
pendent and defy his authority. Both employed tax-gatherers, 
who seem to have generally collected their demands through 
local headmen.^ 

These tax-collectors became a veritable curse to the country, 
and were the most hated feature of the system. They not 
only collected, but assessed the demand. Their arbitrary 
powers, and the fact that they alone had the ear of the chief, 
enabled them to practise what extortion they pleased. Natur- 
ally they made as much as they could, both for their employers 
and for themselves. They acted as spies, informers, procurers, 
and accredited agents, and were universally detested by the 

The lands thus arbitrarily assigned to the rapacious rule of 
the Emir's nominees were frequently not homologous. A 
district which happened to be available, owing to the death 
or removal of its feudal chief, would be granted to a favourite, 
irrespective of whether it lay near his territory or not. More- 
over, in the confusion of war it might happen that a party 
of fugitives settled down on a spot far removed from the 
rest of the community, but continued to recognise the ties 
of clan and afllnity, to pay allegiance to their own tribal 
chief, and to ignore the authority of the local district 

Thus a chief might exercise jurisdiction over, and claim 
taxes from a number of detached areas, situated like islands 
in another chief's territory, accentuating the evils of absentee- 
ism, and inviting a conflict of authority. It is clearly necessary 
that such extra-territorial allegiance should be gradually 
abolished, while all new migrants acknowledge the local 
authority as a condition of settlement. 

The urgent reforms which would seem to be of universal 
application in Africa, wherever a system of indigenous taxa- 
tion exists, may be summarised briefly, nor are the principles 

' In Southern Nigeria (Yoruba-land) there was a tendency for the " Bal& " of 
the great cities (some of which had a population of over 100,000) to settle down 
and create a court of their own. 



they cover less applicable if taxation is beiag introduced into 
a district de novo : — 

(a) The abolition of a multiplicity of taxes, and their 
consolidation into a single tax, due at a fixed time, and 
limited to a known amount, and the abolition of the system 
of farming out taxes. 

(6) The selection of competent men (whether the former 
territorial chief or another), and their appointment as salaried 
district headmen, directly responsible to the native ruler, 
and residing in the districts assigned to their charge. 

(c) The collection of the tax from the individual (in cash 
if possible) by the village headman and his advisers, super- 
vised by the district head and the British staff ; from the 
village by the district head ; with the abolition of the tax- 
gatherer, and a right of appeal to the head chief and to the 
British staff. 

(d) The recognition of the imdivided authority of the 
native ruler and his delegates, and the payment to them of 
the taxes, of which the ruler retains the portion assigned to 
him, and transfers the remainder — ^in cash if possible — to the 

The district headman can and should have a house at the 
capital, where he can attend to receive the instructions of 
the native ruler and answer for his stewardship. But the 
former fief -holders who prefer to reside permanently at the 
capital would cease to be recognised as part of the native 
administration, and would receive no salaries unless selected 
for an official post under the native ruler. ^ Some would 
become traders, others farmers of their own lands. Un- 
authorised demands on the peasantry must be treated as 
criminal offences. Accredited messengers of the chief or 
native coiirt should carry symbols of oflQce to prevent abuses. 

The tax, as we have seen, is collected in the name of the 
native ruler, who in the advanced communities usually re- 
tains a half for the native administration and pays half to 
the Government. In primitive communities, where there are 
no highly paid officials, and the whole machinery of a native 
administration is in embryo, a quarter of the total may 
suffice, whUe in districts where it has not yet been possible 

1 It waa in Uganda obligatory for a chief to reside for three months at the 
capital (Felkin, 'Notes onWaganda,' p. 46). The "Sazas" when absent now 
appoint a deputy to represent them in the lutiko (council). 


to create any such machinery, 5 per cent or 10 per cent 
may be enough for the remuneration of the village head- 

The principle of participation in the proceeds of the tax, 
however smaU the percentage assigned to primitive com- 
munities may be, should be introduced simultaneously with 
the tax to promote co-operation. The proportion to be 
credited to the native administration is fixed by the Governor, 
and may not be altered without his sanction. Of the moiety 
retained by an advanced native administration, from 5 per 
cent to 10 per cent is paid to the viUage headmen. This 
payment may take the form either of a percentage of the 
amount actually collected by him — ^which ensures his interest 
in the collection — or, when his integrity has been fuUy estab- 
lished, of a fixed salary. The amount would vary in propor- 
tion to the work he is called upon to do. In smaU farm 
villages his duties may hardly encroach at aU on his ordinary 
occupation of farming, and the prestige of the position, with 
a small bonus, will suffice. But in large villages, which in- 
clude a number of craftsmen and traders, the duties of the 
village head may become very onerous, and may probably 
occupy his whole time. In such cases he would generally 
be put on a fixed salary. 

The district headman, who will probably require at least 
one scribe and several messengers to assist him, must receive 
a liberal salary, to enable him to maintain his position with- 
out resorting to illicit practices. The ruUng chief, and the 
principal officers who form his council and transact the 
business of the treasxiry, &c., must also be liberally paid.^ 
Probably 50 per cent of the native share of the tax in an 
advanced community may be devoted to these purposes, the 
remainder being available for the pay of the poUce, the 
maintenance of the prison, the salaries of the native staff in 
the schools, and other administrative expenditure, leaving a 
considerable surplus for public works, such as court-houses, 
treasury buildings, roads, &c. The incUnation to spend an 
imdue amount on the capital city must be avoided. A for- 
ward step in decentraUsation and delegation of responsibihty 
would be taken by the ruling chief assigning a portion of this 
surplus to each of his district headmen, to be spent in de- 
velopment work for the general benefit of the taxpayers. 

1 In North Nigeria the principal Emirs receire £4800 per annum. 


The French, I believe, recognised this principle in some 

On the first inauguration of the tax in Northern Nigeria, the 
native ruler and all oflBcials were paid in percentages, but as 
on the one hand experience was gained as to the salaries re- 
quisite, and as on the other hand the revenue iacreased, fixed 
salaries were, as I have said, substituted in aU cases except 
the small village head. The receipts from the native courts 
fuUy balance the expenditure on the salaries of the judges, 
&c. The undesirable parasites — ^favourite slaves and eunuchs 
— ^who, imder a native despotism, are invariably to be found 
surrounding the native ruler and exercising a baleful influence, 
soon disappear when their maintenance becomes a charge on 
the chief's personal income, but he is reUeved of the cost of 
police and other officials charged with public duties. Un- 
fettered financial independence has a tendency to multiply 
superfluous court officials and parasites. 

I referred in the last chapter to the recognition of the 
village as the imit of administration, and to the difficulty 
of defining it, since with security to life and property the 
tendency of the peasantry is no longer to congregate in 
walled towns, but to build their huts on the land they tUl. 
In an advanced civilisation Uke that of England, the State 
has a personal account with each individual citizen, but in 
tropical Africa (as in India) the village must be the imit of 
taxation. For this purpose scattered groups of tenements, 
which cannot even be dignified with the name of " hamlets," 
must be considered as forming part of the town or viflage 
from which they emanated, and to which in association they 

On the other hand, the tendency to group a number of 
contiguous villages under a single head must in my opinion 
be avoided, for it strikes at the root of the principle of the 
village unit. That principle is that a measure of responsi- 
bility in the assessment for taxation (as in other matters) 

' Monsieur Boberdean, Governor of the Ivory Coast, when introducing the 
direct tax, is reported to have said that the necessity for its imposition " makes it 
equally necessary that the authority of the chiefs should be more extended and 
efficient. For it is the chief who should assess the tax, should distribute it 
fairly, and should be charged with applying the necessary proportion to the 
interests of the village taxed. " It was to supersede all direct tributes, and was 
to be divided as to one-third to the chief, one-third to public works in the 
village, and one-third for the local administration. 


should be conEerred on the chief of each distinct village, 
assisted by councillors selected by the villagers themselves. 
Its practical eflficiency depends on the recognised headman 
having some personal knowledge of the standing and wealth 
of every member of the community, and a personal iofluence 
over them, and being able to collect the tax himself without 
employing tax-gatherers, whUe he in turn is under the in- 
fluence of their opinion. 

When the size of the community and the diversity of its 
occupations begin to render this impossible, the vfllage may 
be said to have become a town or city. For purposes of taxa- 
tion (and of general administration) a town is divided into 
wards, each imder a ward head, who occupies a status similar 
to that of a village head. They are responsible to the district 
head either directly or through a headman of the town. 

The tax is based on the principles which characterise the 
evolution of taxation in all countries — viz., the right of the 
ruler, on behalf of the community, to a share of the usufruct 
of the land. This was the basis of the Hebraic as of the 
Islamic system. It was the ancient custom in India, and still 
obtains in some of the smaller States. The British system 
in India, though theoretically founded upon it, revolutionised 
its fundamental principles, by taking immense trouble to 
ascertain the average yield of each field, and its money value, 
and then demanding from the cultivator the Government 
share in cash. Thus in a bad year the ryot was often driven 
to the money-lender, and he lost also by the conversion 
into cash. 

This ancient method of dividing the produce of the land 
between the overlord and the cultivators has survived in 
France under the mMayage system, but the share was the due 
of the landlord and not of the State. The claim of the State 
in Mgeria abolishes that of the landlord until he emerges 
again in a later stage of evolution. (See chapter on land.) 

The difificulty in giving practical effect to the principle 
lies in the necessary inadequacy of the British supervising 
staff, and in the ignorance of the native subordinates, their 
fear of assuming responsibility, and their liability to succumb 
to temptation and to adopt irregular practices. An ideal 
assessment cannot be effected without a trained and costly 
staff, but it is well to keep the ideal in view. Assessment 
on an average yield need not, however, necessarily produce 


unfair results, provided that the unit of area is not too large, 
that the Government is ready to make remissions in excep- 
tional cases, and above all that the average price (as distiact 
from the average yield) of produce is not fixed. For unless 
the diminution iu a bad year is due to a very local cause, 
the output md probably fetch a higher than the average 
price, and as the tax is paid in cash and not in kind, the 
peasant should not suffer. 

We have seen how a rough-and-ready assessment of the 
amount due from each cultivator may be arrived at by the 
district and village headmen, as a percentage of the potential 
yield of his land — viz., a tax on his profits or wealth. To 
caU this (as the Northern Nigeria Lands Committee do) 
a " land rent " is, from the poiut of view of the native 
occupier, the same thing as asserting that the land belongs 
to the Governor, who is to him the embodiment of the abstract 
idea of " the State." If he can only obtain the right to use 
it by payment of a rent, he considers that the land has been 
taken from him, and it is for this reason that the people of 
Southern Nigeria and the Gold Coast have evinced such a 
dread of the application of the Northern Nigerian system to 
their lands. I shaU deal with this subject iu chapter xiv. 

Moreover, if the tax is treated as a land-rent and propor- 
tioned to the area occupied, each cultivator naturally en- 
deavours to reduce his acreage, especially if he has a risky 
crop, which may fail and leave him nothing with which to 
pay his rent.^ The taxpayer is only Uable for the authorised 
percentage of the harvest which his land should yield in any 
particular year if properly cultivated, whether that yield be 
large, or whether, in consequence of drought, or locusts, &c., 
it be small. A rough survey by natives to assist in the calcu- 
lation of area imder cultivation, total yield, and individual 
holdings, is very useful. (See p. 301.) 

The District Officer, aided by the native district and village 
headmen, assesses in a rough-and-ready manner the amount 

^ This was illustrated in Sokoto, where a fixed rental resulted in 3641 rice 
farms (about half the total area of that crop) going out of cultivation, with a 
corresponding decrease in the tax collected. Conversely, Sir H. Fowler (Secretary 
of State), in the Indian Budget debate of 1906, remarked that "the land-tax iu 
India cannot be called taxation in any shape or form. It resembles the relation 
of landlord and tenant . . . (since) the land in India had for centuries belonged 
to the Crown." The land-rent was Is. 8d. in the £, other taxes Is. lOd. per 
head per annum. 


which each village has to pay, by taking a census of the 
population and live-stock, and noting the amount of cultivated 
land, the proximity of markets, water-supply, &c., and the 
number of craftsmen and traders it contains. The profit on 
village cattle (as on those owned by nomads) is for con- 
venience calculated at an average rate per head (Is. 6d.). 
Craftsmen (blacksmiths, tanners, weavers, dyers, &o.) may 
be assessed by a comparison of their standard of liviag with 
that of the agriculturists, or grouped in classes according to 
their visible profits.^ Fees for special services or privileges 
are, of course, additional to the tax, such as market dues 
(spent on the control and improvement of the market). 

This assessment is obviously not an easy task, but when 
once the tax of a normal village, enjoying ordinary facilities 
as to markets, &c., has with much pains and discussion been 
arrived at, additions and deductions can be made with suffi- 
cient accuracy for other villages in the district. To the 
ordiuary value of the usual crops must be added that of 
special irrigation crops, and of live-stock, together with the 
profits of the non-agricultural population, including traders. 
The total is then divided among the adult population in pro- 
portion to their wealth by the village headman. K an indi- 
vidual earns a separate income — as, for instance, by working 
as a casual labourer during the season when his farm does not 
demand his attention — he would be liable for the percentage 
of his profits in the place where they are earned, and no 
account of them would be taken in the village assessment. 

The district headman collects the tax from the various 
villages, and takes it to the ruling chief, unless (as in a small 
community) he is himself the chief. The Ust of villages with 
their assessments is carefully checked by the chief and his 
coimcU each year just before the harvest, when the crop 
can be estimated with fair accuracy, in order that any small 
additions due to increase of population and wealth, or de- 
creases due to migration and other causes, or alterations due 
to seasonal variation may be effected. As time permits the 
District Ofiflcer would check these revisions on the spot. The 
modifications, and the reasons for them, are explaiaed to the 
villages by the village head, who is thus trained and encour- 
aged to accept responsibiUty. The final assessment is, of 

' In Bornu they were grouj-ed in four classes — spaying respectively Ss,, 2s., Is., 
and 6d. per annum. 


course, subject to remission by the Governor for any excep- 
tional canse.i 

The District Officer on his part compiles a statistical register, 
showing the number of men, women, and children, of live- 
stock and huts, with notes on the area under cultivation, 
the special conditions affecting each village, and the method 
by which he arrived at the amount of assessment. The 
report, illustrated by a map, contains such historical and 
ethnological information as he has been able to coUect, with 
notes as to the incidence of former taxation, the existence of 
any communities which own a separate allegiance, the pros- 
pects of introducing new cultures, and any other matter of 
interest. In Northern Mgeria these assessment reports are 
admirably compiled, and have been found of quite extraor- 
dinary interest. 

The task is obviously a laborious one, though full of in- 

^ The apportionment of the tax by the village head ia adopted in India (as 
indeed it must be in any tropical dependency). The magistrate, says a writer in 
the ' Asiatic Quarterly,' appoints the Panchayet (Council of Five), under the Act 
of 1856, to apportion the tax, and this is done either " (o) by actual valuation of 
property, which is rare, or (6) by their general knowledge of the circumstances 
of each individual, a system which works much better. " 

The method followed at Sokoto is thus described by the Resident : " First there 
is a discussion with the district headman regarding taxation prospects generally, 
condition of crops and trade ; whether an increase of last year's tax is justifiable, and 
what changes are desirable (whether increase or decrease) for particular villages. 
Then the village headmen are called in, each in turn ; the district headman makes 
his recommendation, the village headman is invited to express an opinion, and the 
tax is then decided. The Political Officer records the tax in the Tribute Register, 
and writes the name of the village, the amount of its tax, with initials and date, 
on a slip of paper. He hands this slip to a native scribe, who writes the name 
and the amount of tax in the vernacular, while at the same time a second scribe 
enters the name and amount in the vernacular on a list. When the district is 
complete the vernacular list with its total is handed to the district headman 
together with the separate slips which he will distribute to the village headmen. 
The village head has this documentary record of the amount due, to show to the 
village elders when they assemble with him to distribute the tax among the 
people and draw up the annual list of taxpayers. Many villages will be paying 
the same as the previous year, but probably 75 per cent are changed, generally 
by a slight increase. 

" Not every district is summoned to Sokoto every year. In most years the 
European stafif admits of some districts being revised on the spot — viz., at the 
headquarters of the district. This has the advantage that in cases of doubt as 
to the capacity of the village, an inspection and census can be taken. The 
object of this annual revision is to adjust inequalities caused by inter-village 
migration, between the five or six years that elapse between one assessment by a 
District Officer and the next. . . . The Sarkin Musulmi (e.g. , Sultan of Sokoto) 
has ordered all district heads to prepare a census annually, on which their tax 
revision will be based. . . . There is no doubt that the periodical visits of the 
headmen to Sokoto has done much to strengthen the Sarkin Musulmi's control. " — 
Resident Amett, 11th October 1916. 


terest. The result is called an "approved assessment." 
Until it can be undertaken, the tax imposed must neces- 
sarily be a mere guess, based on information derived from the 
district head and the former tax-gatherers, which in aU cases 
has been foimd to be unreliable, and very much less than 
the proper amount. These assessments have been in progress 
for many years in Northern Mgeria, and though interfered 
with by the depletion of the staff during the war they are 
approaching completion. 

The education of the district and village headmen in the 
duties of assessment and apportionment of the tax is a very 
important part of a District Officer's work, but he must be 
content to find that the results of his efforts will only be 
very gradually apparent, and be satisfied with uniformity 
in principles.^ He is responsible to the Eesident, as the dis- 
trict head is to the native ruler. He hears appeals in con- 
sultation with the district head, and a final appeal to the 
Eesident is provided by law. Defaulters are dealt with by 
the provincial or native court. 

Collection by natives is apt to give rise to fears of mal- 
practices, but the replacement of the tax-gatherer by respon- 
sible native officials, the prior notification of the amount due, 
the check exercised by the native ruler and his cotmcil, as 
well as by the British staff, and the right of appeal to both 
— all these are efficient checks. It is, moreover, most de- 
sirable, on the one hand, to train the native administration, 
and on the other hand, that the peasantry should regard the 
British officer not as a tax-gatherer, but as a friend to whom 
they can appeal against injustice ; and he has an opportunity 
of judging of the capacity and the integrity of native head- 

Among primitive tribes the work of the assessing officer 
is simplified, for in the communal stage the tax falls equally 
upon aU, and is in fact a levy on the common stock. From 
that stage of evolution onwards through the tribal organisa- 

' 111 some of the provinces of Northern Nigeria, ^however, the amount at which 
each individual has been assessed is entered by the village head in a register, and 
receipts are given on application. Copies of this register are kept up to date in 
the Waziri's office at the capital. Such a result would have been considered a 
counsel of perfection a few years ago. The individual account is, however, 
superfluous, except in the case of wealthy traders. Papers of different colours, 
showing the amount due and receipts for payment, are useful as being easily 
distinguishable by illiterates. 


tion to the " advanced community," the bulk of the people 
have — though in a constantly decreasing ratio — an identical 
standard of living, and of "wealth." The tax therefore 
develops pari passu -with the progress of the community from 
a poU or capitation tax to a graduated income tax. 

TJntU efficient district heads have been trained, the District 
Officer will have to collect the tax himself from the family 
or village heads. The important point is to ensure that the 
rate is widely known, otherwise the village head, if a strong 
man, may practise extortion, and if a weak man will fail to 
exact it from those who refuse to pay, and will seize an excess 
amount from those who are imable to resist. Experience in 
Northern Mgeria shows that independent pagans are not 
unwilling to pay, provided they can do so direct to Govern- 
ment and not through an overlord or tax-gatherer.^ Police 
should never be employed in the collection of the tax. 

When discussing native administration I remarked that 
among such folk the institution of a treasury seems to be a 
farce, for they are incapable of understanding it, but (as 
in the case of the primitive native courts) I think that much 
value attaches to these early beginnings, for they are steps 
towards the fulfilment of the aim of the Government, to push 
each community a step further up the ladder of progress, by 
the reaUsation of the conception of individual and civic 

Though the collection of so small a tax from primitive 
tribes may seem to-day to give more trouble than it is worth, 
its chief value does not lie in the revenue collected. The 
most useful result — as the French and Belgians have also 
foimd — ^is the close contact between officials and natives which 
assessment and collection necessitates, and the consequent 
mutual understanding and confidence which invariably results. 
Moreover, those who pay the tax are quick to resent the 
immunity of others. 

The tax should be collected simultaneously in all provinces 
immediately after the harvest. Quick collection minimises 
opportunities for misappropriation, and obviates the necessity 

^ Yola and Bauchi are two provinces with a large population of independent 
pagan tribes. The Resident of the former writes (September 1919) : "I do not 
think the tax is resented even by the wilder tribes — refusal to pay is generally 
rather a revolt against all constituted authority than objection to paying the 
tax itself." The latter reports that "the tax is brought promptly even by 
the most backward tribes, and there is no trouble." 


of large workmg balances in the native treasury. The single 
demand is popular. The cattle tax shoidd be collected during 
the raiQS, when the flocks and herds have all returned from 
the marsh-lands to their own districts. 

To avoid the trouble of transporting bulky produce, the 
native quickly appreciates the advantage of securing suffi- 
cient cash to pay his tax, thus promoting the adoption of 
currency, which facilitates trade.^ If payment in cash is 
not possible, the produce most easily saleable would be ac- 
cepted, and its sale i£ possible witnessed by the payers ; but 
as Khama pointed out, European traders should be urged to 
pay cash for the produce they buy, in order that the native 
may get cash to pay his tax.^ 

I have said that the amount of the tax on primitive tribes 
should be very small — the equivalent of a few days' labour. 
In Uganda a month's labour is, or was, I beheve, exacted in 
lieu of the tax — a system I deprecate as being liable to be 
misunderstood for forced labour. It is, I think, desirable to 
avoid the acceptance even of labour's equivalent — e.g., wood 
fuel for steamers, &c., — ^it is better to pay for such things in 
cash, and receive the cash back as tax, that there may be no 
possible mistake as to forced labour. Such a course, more- 
over, lessens the chance of the whole tax falling on the poorer 
classes, while the traders and well-to-do escape. Since women 
are at least equally with men the producers of wealth, all 
adults pay the tax, but women usually pay one-third less 
than men. 

AU persons in Northern Nigeria who are subject to the 
native jurisdiction pay the tax through the machinery of the 
native administration. Native traders and others not sub- 
ject to the native jurisdiction, but "residing or being" in a 
province to which the ordinance applies, pay to the British 
staff, deducting any municipal rate to which they may be 

^ In Uganda, where distance from a seaport renders the realisation of produce 
paid in kind equally difficult as in Northern Nigeria, the administration was 
fortunately able to form a "local produce scheme," by which the natives were 
encouraged to cultivate or collect saleable produce and bring it to the Govern- 
ment stations, where it was handed over to merchants for cash. The feasi- 
bility of such a scheme depends of course on merchants being available at a 
sufficient number of stations throughout the country. 

2 " The white men who trade with us object to pay money. They like to give 
us the goods they sell in exchange for such things as we have a desire to dispose 
of. In order that we may find money for paying our taxes . . . the white 
traders must pay money for what they buy." — Letter of 11th November 1895, 


liable in a township. Ifatives not resident in the area to 
which the ordinance applies remain Uable in respect of any 
property or income derived from that area. 

The lack of precision in the original scheme of taxation in 
Mgeria, which the Colonial Office was disposed to criticise, is 
not in my view a defect. For the object is to evolve reform 
by organisation and adjustment, without dislocation of cus- 
toms and traditions to which the people are accustomed, so 
that these conservative forces may be auxiliary and not an- 
tagonistic to the improved methods — ^in a word, the develop- 
ment of indigenous institutions rather than the sudden intro- 
duction of alien methods, however excellent. " There has 
been no great shock and no convulsion, only into the veins 
of a decadent civilisation new blood has been introduced 
which has brought with it the promise of a new era of life." '• 

The most serious obstacle experienced iu Mgeria when the 
tax was inaugurated was the difficulty of suppressing per- 
sonation. A credulous and illiterate people, long accustomed 
to oppression, were easily victimised by any scoundrel who, 
producing an old envelope picked up in a deserted camp, or 
even a piece of newspaper, as his credentials, would declare 
himself to be the authorised emissary of the Government, 
and demand what he chose. If the villagers demurred he 
would threaten their extermination by Government, or bring 
lying accusations of disaffection. Patient investigation, the 
gradual education of the peasantry, and very deterrent sen- 
tences on the culprits when caught, can alone deal with this 
offence, which causes the Government to be misrepresented 
and hated. 

In most parts of Africa direct taxation has taken the form 
of a hut tax. The hut was, of course, intended as the 
symbol of population, and there was no intention of claiming 
property in it, or of charging a rent for it. But the method 
was unfortunate, for as Miss Kiagsley justly observed, the 
African assumes that " the thing you pay any one a fee for 
is a thing which is not your own," * and that Government has 
confiscated his hut. 

Apart from the defects in form and operation of the tax 
on a native hut which experience has brought to light, this 
tax differs from the one proposed in this chapter, in that it 

' 'A Tropical Dependency," p. 500. 

' Letter to 'Spectator,' 19th March 1898. 


appears to be superimposed upon any system of taxation 
by the cMefs, which in Uganda at any rate must, I presume, 
be tolerably substantial. It thus becomes a purely white 
man's tax. The method I have advocated has this essential 
difference, that the tax is imposed in the name of the para- 
mount chief, is shared with the native administration, and 
is substituted for aU existing forms of taxation. 

The general results which may be anticipated to accrue 
from a system of direct taxation shared with the native 
administration may be thus summarised : — 

(a) In the case of advanced communities a substantial 
revenue should be secured to the native chiefs and oflftcials, 
to replace the loss of slave-raiding and slave-trading, the 
levies on traders which crushed trade, the extortions from 
the peasantry, and the fines and bribes which perverted jus- 
tice. As individuals they would have adequate salaries, which 
they earn by discharging responsible duties for the adminis- 
tration, and as rulers they would have revenue for the pro- 
gress of the country.^ 

(6) A considerable and increasing revenue can be secured 
to Government, due to better organisation and collection of 
the tax, and its universality ; while coin currency with its 
immense influence for trade and progress is promoted. 

(c) The peasantry is emancipated in the true sense of the 
word to an even greater extent than woidd be the case by the 
abolition of domestic slavery. The tax they pay should be 
very moderate, and they are freed from arbitrary exactions. 
Industry and personal initiative are encouraged instead of 
being the mark for spoliation. 

(d) The absentee ruler or landlord is replaced by the dis- 
trict headman, who has responsible executive duties, dele- 
gated by the ruHng chief, instead of being an idle place- 
holder. Decentralisation of powers relieves the ruler of work 
he could not properly perform, limits opportunities for mal- 
administration by him, increases the Eesident's effective 

^ The revenue of the native administrations in the northern provinces of 
Nigeria amounted in 1918 to £492,663. The salaries of all grades, including 
native courts, police, and prisons, amounted to £304,996, being about OJd. per 
head of population, and leaving about £188,000 for other expenditure (public 
works, education, &c.) In 1919 the total collected was over £950,000, of which 
the native administration share was £536,000. In the Kauo Emirate, with a 
population of 2f millions, the returns have increased by 300 per cent in ten 
years and by 46 per cent in the last four years, but the tax is still under Is. 6d. 
per head of population (2s. per adult). 


supervision, and facilitates the delegation of powers by- 
Government, with confidence that they wUl not be abused, 
and so enables the Government to rule through the chiefs. 

(e) The former territorial chiefs, who invariably deteriorate 
by the exercise of unchecked licence, have either to accept 
responsible duties as district heads or officers of State, or 
have to take to trade or agriculture, and lead a life dignified 
by personal exertion. 

(/) The multiplication of titular office-holders and others, 
including the tax-gatherers, who live on the industry of the 
peasantry, and the tendency of the rulers to grant such 
offices to relatives or favourite slaves, will be checked, and 
only such officials will be appointed as have substantial duties 
to perform, and as have been selected for their ability. 

Among primitive communities the introduction of the tax, 
simtdtaneously with the assumption of control, lays the 
foundation for future expansion for revenue purposes, whereby 
the burdens on trade, which are unequal in their iacidence, 
may be reduced. K imposed at once it is more likely to be 
received without friction. It has the effect of curbing law- 
lessness, of accelerating progress to a higher plane, and of 
stimulating industry. The amount in the early stages should 
be small, and should increase with the evolution of the com- 
munity, and the benefits it receives. 

A brief note as to the form and amount of the direct tax 
in various British and foreign dependencies in Africa is 

The most common direct taxes which it is the object of the 
income tax to supersede, partake either of the nature of class 
taxation, or are levies on trade in one form or another. 

Caravan tolls are immemorial in Africa — existing in Abys- 
sinia to-day to a degree which almost stifles trade.^ As peace 
and security of property are introduced, evasion is increas- 
ingly easy. The employment of police offers great temptation 
for bribery direct and indirect. The examination of bales 
of goods is a grievance, and the frequent demands for payment 
as the caravan proceeds from centre to centre is greatly dis- 
liked. The collection of the taxes involves very heavy work 
on the district staff, and evasion adds to the list of punishable 
offences. Nevertheless, from long usage these tolls were 
not unpopular in Northern Mgeria, and had the strong 

' See footnote, p. 46. 


support of the natiTe rulers, even after they ceased themselves 
to benefit by them. Canoe Ucences are a necessary adjunct 
of this tax, for a trader who conveys his goods by water would 
otherwise obtain an undue advantage over the merchant who 
travels by land. 

Northern Mgeria was compelled by lack of revenue for 
essential needs to adopt these taxes, until the success of the 
direct income tax was proved. In 1906, however, all produce 
for export overseas, and goods imported by those who held 
trading licences, were exempted, so that the tax fell solely 
on the internal native trade — chiefly soda from Lake Chad 
to the great cities — which had paid no customs duties. 

As a temporary expedient these tolls were not whoUy 
without merit, for they fell on the class best able to pay, 
which otherwise practically escaped taxation. They acted 
to some extent as a deterrent to the abandonment of agri- 
culture in favour of petty trade — a tendency especially notice- 
able when slavery was abolished, and the roads made safe. 
The collection, moreover, enabled the infant administration 
to gain a knowledge of the internal trade of the country, 
which it would otherwise have taken many years to acquire. 
Trading and shopkeepers' licences fall into the same category, 
and hamper trade and development. These also have long 
ago been abandoned in Mgeria. 

Vehicle licences — especially on private motor-cars — are 
justified as a contribution to the maintenance of the roads 
they use. If used only in a city or township, the Mcence 
fees form a useful ad(Mtion to municipal revenue. Market 
dues, if in excess of the sums required for the supervision and 
improvement of rural markets, are a restraint on trade and 
objectionable, but a township is justified in deriving a mode- 
rate revenue from them for municipal purposes. 

Licences for the most part are not imposed with the object 
of raising revenue, but in order to give effect to some special 
restriction — e.g., those for shooting game or bearing firearms 
— or to recoup some special expenditure. 




A house-rate is a form of levy well adapted for raising municipal 
funds in a city, where modern amenities require a special outlay. The 
native householder sees that it is paid equally by Europeans, and can 
appreciate the necessity for providing funds for water-supply, street- 
lighting, good roads, and sanitation. Mr Chamberlain himself took 
exception to the fact that the hut tax in Sierra Leone had not been 
made applicable to the Colony and its capital city Freetown, where 
much of its proceeds would be spent. The rate was 53. per hut. 
The very serious rising in Sierra Leone in 1897, though it was 
popularly known as the "Hut -tax Eebellion," was probably only 
partially caused by that tax, and had its deeper origin in the efforts of 
the local Government to check misrule by the inland chiefs, and in the 
malpractices of its own police. 

In Uganda a hut tax of 4s. (or alternatively of one month's labour) 
was said to have had ill effects in rendering the natives unwilling to 
occupy separate huts, and decreasing marriages. The lukiko (native 
council) then suggested a tax of 2s. 8d. on those who did not occupy 
huts. The result, said the High Commissioner, was "to lessen the 
distinction between the married man and bachelor, to promote 
morality, induce the bachelor element to settle down, and to 
encourage married life." The labour equivalent of the tax seems 
to have been very high. The German substitute would have been 
eight days' labour instead of a month. Vide inf. 

In Nyasaland the Ordinance of 1901 ^ imposed a tax of 12s. on the 
owner or occupier of each hut in a " proclaimed district " (viz., 95 per 
cent of the population) and of 6s. elsewhere, with a rebate of half the 
amount if the occupier could prove that he had worked for a European 
for wages for a month. This would seem to partake of the nature of 
a subsidy payable from revenue to European employers of labour, 
while the distinction between "proclaimed" and other districts seems 
to penalise the natives of the settled districts, for presumably the un- 
proclaimed districts were those in which the tax could not easily be 
collected, unless the native made himself liable by seeking work from 

These anomalies have been removed by the recent Ordinance,^ which 
imposes a tax of Gs. per hut, with an additional 6s. for every wife after 
the first, and an alternative poll-tax for any native not liable to hut 
tax. The penalties are severe. Default for six months involves 
liability to a fine of 2s. or a month's imprisonment, further default for 
two months involves a fine of 4s. or three months' imprisonment, and 

1 ' Gazette' of 31st December 1901. ^ No. 4 of Slst March 1921. 


forfeiture of his hut. The tax remains recoverable as a judgment 

Taxation in Kenya takes the form of a poll-tax, and the signatories 
of the Economic Eeport express the view that the African could not 
conceivably be assessed to income tax.^ 

In Northern Ehodesia the tax may not exceed £1, and is fixed at 
present at 10s., with an additional 10s. for each wife after the first. 
Half the revenue is derived from this source.^ 

The South African Native Affairs Commission recorded their 
opinion — 

(1) That it is necessary to impose direct taxation upon the natives. 

(2) That it can best be imposed by means of a hut tax or poll-tax. 

(3) That the tax should not be less than £1 per annum, payable by 
every male adult native, with an additional £1 for every wife after 
the first. 

(4) That farm servants in bona fide and continuous employment and 
natives domiciled within an urban area who pay local taxes should be 

In addition, the Commission favoured the extension of the principle 
of local taxation for beneficial purposes on the lines of the Glen 
Grey Act.^ 

Dr Unwin reported in 1911 on the system of taxation in force in 
German Togoland. Every male over sixteen years of age must pay 
6s. or twelve days' labour at his option. Treasury officials preferred 
the former, district officers the latter. Headmen of villages were 
called upon to declare the number of adult males and to bring them 
up annually. The numbers were checked by the district officer. The 
headman was given a German field-cap as a mark of office. In the 
Cameruns the tax was, I believe, 3s. per adult male, with 2s. 
additional for each wife after the first. 

Mr Migeod writes : " In French territory the poll-tax varies from 
5 francs in some districts to 12.50 francs in others. . . . The Belgians 
have a graded tax, variable to meet the earning capacity of the native. 
In the big towns near the coast it is as much as 25 francs. A man 
who has four children by the same wife is exempt — with the dual 
object of stimulating monogamy and child-bearing. All wives after 
the first have to be paid for. The tax in both French and Belgian 
Congo is collected by the European officer." * In India the tax is 
stated to average 3s. 6d. a head.^ 

' Economic Commission's Report, 1919, p. 25. 

2 ' Gazette ' of 25th February 1921 ; Ordinance 2 of 1921. In Southern 
Bhodesia there is a poll-tax of £1. 

^ In Basutoland the poll-tax is £1, with an additional £1 for each wife up to £3. 
In Bechuanaland a hut tax of £1, plus 3s. for a native fund for education is 
levied.— Annual Report 1057 for 1919-20. 

* 'West Africa,' 25th June 1921. 

s 'Times,' 19th December 1913. 




TAXATION (eontinued) and methods op kaising eevence. 

Taxation of corporate bodies — Trading — Mining — Banking — Taxation of 
individual non-natives— Taxation and representation — Import and 
export duties— The case for export duties — Duty on salt — Adjust- 
ment of duties to area of consumption or origin of articles — Rebates 
to compensate for transport — Differential export duties — The 
economic effects of the war — The Paris economic resolutions — 
Committee on oil-producing seeds and nuts — Committee on com- 
mercial and industrial policy — The action taken and its justification 
— The case of cotton — Proposals of the E.R.D.C. — Alternative pro- 
posals — Contribution for defence — Imperial preference — Retaliation 
by foreign Powers. 

In the two chief forms of European enterprise and invest- 
ment in the tropics — trading and mining — ^we find that local 
governments have imposed two principal forms of indirect 
taxation — viz., customs duties for the one, and royalties for 
the other. The operation of these two methods of taxation 
differs considerably. In the case of the merchant the amount 
of the import duty is added to the retail sale price, and is 
thus passed on to the consumer. In like manner the amount 
of any export duty is deducted from the price paid for the 
produce, and is thus passed on to the producer. In neither 
case is it paid by the merchant, whose profits are neither 
increased nor diminished by such duties, provided the in- 
dustry can bear them — viz., that the consumer will continue 
to buy the merchants' goods, when the duty, plus the reason- 
able margin of profit on capital invested, has been added to 
prime cost, inclusive of transport, and provided that the 
producer wiU continue to seU for the price offered, including 
marketing and aU other charges. 

The merchants' profit therefore depends primarily on the 
degree of competition to which he is subjected by other 


mercliants, while the amount of the customs duty which the 
local government can impose is limited to the amount which 
the consumer of imports, or the producer of exports, can pay. 
In other words, customs duties are an indirect tax on the 
native consimier or producer, and not on the importing or 
exporting merchant. Competition will secm-e to the native 
the maximum price which rival traders can possibly pay for 
produce, and customs duties act directly in diminution of 
this price or profit to the native, so long as the market is free. 
If a monopoly is introduced, or a trading combine or ring is 
formed to control the market, and interfere with these natural 
laws, then the duties wiU operate in diminution of the profits 
of the monopoly or combine. 

This is also true of the rents and premia charged by the 
local government for the land occupied by a merchant in the 
pursuit of his business. They are not added directly to the 
selling — or deducted from the purchasing — price, like import 
or export duties, but if there is tinrestricted competition 
they decrease the price which the competitors are able to offer 
for the produce, and increase pro rata the price asked for 
imported goods. The produce exported by the merchant, 
whether animal or vegetable, is annually renewed by the 
processes of nature and the toil of man, and is in that sense 
inexhaustible, and its value in the home markets depends on 
the demand and supply of the world. 

The case of the miner stands on a different basis. The 
minerals he exports are not perennially renewed by N'atiu'e, 
and when exported are permanently lost to the coimtry. 
There is no local competition (except in the labour market), 
for whatever quantity he may win from his particular mine 
does not appreciably affect the value of his neighbour's output. 
He is subject only to the fluctuations of the world's prices — 
equally with the merchant. His local efforts are confined to 
the endeavour to reduce the cost of winning the minerals, and 
by so doing he does not decrease the exportable output of 
his neighbour, but merely increases his own individual profit. 
The rents, licences, and royalties he pays to Government are 
in direct diminution of those profits, and cannot be passed 
over to the native, except in the form of a reduction of wages, 
and this is not feasible to him, since the wage-rate is fixed by 
the competition of all industries alike, and by the profits of 
private production. Profits in the mining industry are regu- 


lated, therefore, by cost of production, and the world's prices 
for the product. Eoyalties must be proportioned to " what 
the industry will bear," and should therefore be fixed on a 
sliding scale — ^increasing or decreasing with the world's prices. 

It thus appears that whereas the mining companies (whose 
exports decrease the capital assets of the country) contribute 
directly to the local revenue, trading companies (though in- 
creasing by their operations the productive output) do not 
contribute directly, for whatever customs duties are levied 
on the goods they import or export are transferred to the 
consumer or producer as the case may be, and thus become a 
form of indirect taxation, which chiefly falls on the natives, 
who are the principal producers and consumers. 

The profits of both industries are taxed (whether before 
or after distribution to the shareholders) in the country where 
the company is registered, and it would seem reasonable that 
companies should register not only in the country where the 
profits on the use of capital are distributed, but also in the 
country in which the profits are made, and that a certain 
proportion of those profits should accrue to the country in 
which they are earned. With the phenomenal increase in the 
material prosperity of the British African tropics, and the 
formation of innumerable companies, British and foreign, 
many of which in normal circumstances earn large profits, the 
question of the contribution which commercial and mining 
companies formed by Europeans should rightly make towards 
the administration, and development by railways, &c., of the 
countries in which their profits accrue, becomes one of in- 
creasing importance and urgency. It has already received 
some attention in Uganda, Iforthem Ehodesia, the Congo 
State, and the Straits Settlements.^ 

The proper proportion of profits which a banking corpora- 
tion should pay to local revenue can best be secured by special 

' The Straits Qovernment appears to contemplate the taxation of all companies 
which are not fully taxed in England. — ' Gazette ' of 30th January 1920. It is 
reported that a tax of 6 per cent is now imposed on the profits earned by all 
commercial companies in the Belgian Congo. All persons receiving salaries (in- 
cluding civil servants) are taxed on a graduated scale. — Consular Report. The 
Northern Rhodesia Ordinance, No. 4 of 1921, imposes an income tax on businesses 
which extend to any other country. "The taxable income is the sum which 
shall bear the same proportion to the whole net profits as the assets in the 
territory bear to the total assets," or, if preferred by the taxpayer, " an assess- 
ment on the actual profits derived from sources in the country," with elaborate 
provisions for rebates, &c.— ' Gazette," 7/3/21. 


licences. Its profits are limited by competition, and though 
they may be considerable, the adyantages conferred by a 
bank, alike on commerce and on the administration, merit 
every encouragement. 

Turning now from Joint Stock Companies, and the taxa- 
tion of profits on the use of capital, to the individual non- 
native in Africa, we find that they consist — ^with the excep- 
tion of missionaries and the settlers in the East African 
Highlands — almost entirely of Government ofllcials and the 
employees of companies. Their incomes may consist of a 
fixed salary, with or without a share of profits or a prospec- 
tive pension, or contingent easements, such as free housing, 
medical attendance, full-pay leave, &c., which we will include 
in the term "income." The incomes earned by the senior 
employees of companies, whether engaged in trade, mining, 
or banking, are believed to be considerable, but whether small 
or large they are free from any form of local income tax in 
Africa. " Why," it has been asked, " are the natives subjected 
to an income tax from which Em-opeans are exempt ? " ^ 

It is manifest that commercial firms would not pay to their 
employees salaries in excess of the value to them of their 
services. If, therefore, their incomes were diminished by the 
imposition of an income tax, it may be assimied that they 
would be augmented by the employers to the previous tax-free 
standard. The tax would therefore (like land rents, &c.) 
eventually become chargeable on the profits of the concern, 
and would either be passed on to the native consumer or 
producer, or would operate to diminish dividends. In the 
case of artificial control of prices by monopoly or combine, 
it would directly diminish the profits of the ring. 

It may, with equal confidence, be assumed that the income 
of a Government official does not exceed the amount for 
which efficient men can be obtained. If the salary were 
increased by the amount of income tax, the revenue would 
lose precisely what it had gained — unless the augmentation 
of salary were in some few cases rendered imnecessary by 

^ The Northern Rhodesia Ordinance also levies an income tax on all Euro- 
peans, graduated from Is. to 2s. 6d. in the £, together with a super-tax. 
Bachelors whose income exceeds £500, and married men with incomes over 
£1000, are liable. Ordinance 13 of August 1921 provides a scale of relief on 
incomes already taxed in England. Trinidad has recently extended its Income- 
tax Act to incomes of persons who, though domiciled abroad, derive money from 
the island. Jamaica is following this example. 


remission of income tax in England — which is improbable. 
It would therefore be preferable to exempt officials, European 
and native. The imposition of a universal tax on profits 
made locally — with the necessary exemptions — would have 
much to recommend it from the point of view of abolishing 
racial discrimination. Missionaries might well be exempted 
from the tax. 

In East Africa there is a poll-tax on every non-native 
of £1 (E. 15) per head per annum, and an Estate Duty Ordi- 
nance was passed in 1918. Allowance is made in the case 
of small incomes.^ The Economic Eeport observes : " The 
Europeans consist of civil servants, tradesmen, professional 
men, and settlers. To subject the first to direct taxation is 
obviously economically unsound. A tax on the so-called 
profits of the settler would yield little or no return, if assessed 
on any basis which would not endanger positions as yet 
not firmly established. The only section of the community 
from whom income tax could be collected comparatively 
cheaply and easily appears to be the European merchants 
and professional men, who form too smaU a proportion of the 
community to justify the imposition of a general income tax, 
with the attendant disabihties. ... A score or two of Indian 
firms in the towns are probably the only Asiatic sources from 
which any appreciable amount of income tax could be col- 
lected by ordinary methods." ^ 

It has from time to time been argued that the bulk of the 
revenue is derived from customs dues paid by merchants, who 
should therefore have a more effective voice in the government 
of the country (p. 116). We have seen, however (pp. 235-6), 
that customs duties provide not more than from 12 per cent 
to 30 per cent in the countries named, and that they are 
paid by the producer or consumer and not by the merchant, 
as they themselves freely admit. On the other hand, it is 
a recognised principle that the Government shovdd be con- 
ducted by men trained to the work, who have no personal 
interests to serve, and whose conduct of affairs offers a target 
before which no shield of self-interest is interposed to prevent 
the critic from discharging his shaft. The merchant who 
embarks his capital in, and devotes his time and thought to, 

1 ' General Information re East Africa,' Overseas Trade Department, 1919, and 
' Handbook of Kenya Colony,' I.D. 1216 of 1920. 

2 Loc. cit., p. 25. 


overseas trade does so naturally and rightly for the sake of 
profit, and does not wish to be bothered with administratiye 
problems. But in my experience, while seeking for profit, 
he has shown a laudable desire that it should be shared with 
the native producer. 

The educated native on his part contributes, in Nigeria at 
any rate, a very small proportion indeed of the revenue. At 
present he pays no income tax, and even the institution of 
a small rate to pay a part of the cost of the water-supply 
for his own city was resented in Lagos. The highest claim 
to guide the State is based on service to the State, and 
• those who claim to participate in its control must bear their 
full share of the burdens and the work of citizens. 

Customs duties in most colonies provide the bulk of the 
revenue derived from indirect taxation. The tradition of 
the Colonial OflBce — based, no doubt, on their accepted 
superiority in civilised countries — has been in favour of 
import as against export duties, while the Foreign Office, 
when in control of African protectorates, maintained that 
" at the Berlin Conference the Powers had deliberately pro- 
nounced against import duties, and in favour of export 
duties." Such duties were approved as regards the Congo 
State to meet expenditure on the suppression of the slave 
trade, and were enforced in the territories under the control 
of the Foreign Office in both East and West Africa, in 
spite of the arguments of the Liverpool merchants in 1893.^ 
The merchants preferred import duties on the grounds that 
" whilst on the one hand the customs houses and staff re- 
quired to deal with imports may entail more expense than 
those required in dealing with exports, it may be poiated out 
that in the case of exports the duty has to be paid before the 
produce is shipped for the home markets, compelling an out- 
lay of capital restrictive of the bulk of trade." 

British Chambers of Commerce have always opposed 
export duties, arguing that since the amount of the duty must 
be deducted from the price offered by the purchaser of pro- 
duce, the native suffers, and that if the duty were removed 
his purchasing power would be stimulated (thus increasing 

^ The Sudan Government continues to levy an export duty of 1 per cent ad 
valorem on produce exported ; but the import duty is 8 per cent on ordinary 
goods.— Handbook 98, p. 155. The Seychelles, Somaliiand, and Bechuana all 
impose an export duty. 


the demand for imported goods). " To tax exports in an un- 
developed country," says the Manchester Chamber, " is held 
to be wrong in principle, and calculated actually to retard 
development." ^ They prefer, in case of necessity, increased 
import duties, and the imposition of duties on articles which 
enter duty free, and an increased duty on salt. 

It is argued, on the other hand, that the native pays the 
duty equally whether it is levied on exports or imports. If 
the duties on the latter are increased to a point which would 
compensate the revenue for the abolition of export duties, 
the cost of imported goods become prohibitive, and as recent 
experience has shown, the native refuses to buy. For, as- 
I have pointed out, his wants are not at present absolutely 
essential necessities, and if Manchester textiles rise above a 
reasonable price he turns to his own looms, not merely de- 
priving Manchester of her market, but absorbing the raw 
cotton which she needs. Since the bulk of the exports must 
be paid for by imports, the idtimate set-back to trade, it is 
argued, is no less, even if the native be tempted at first by 
the improved prices to sell his produce for cash, in the hope 
that the price of imports will decrease. This was the case 
after the war, and it was contended that the hoarding of cash 
contributed to the stringency of current coin, and inflicted 
considerable injury on trade. 

The comparative expediency of import and export duties ia 
an industrial country has, of course, no bearing whatever on 
their expediency in a country which has no exportable manu- 
factures, and where the consimier and the producer are the 
same person, who pays the duty whether levied on imports 
or exports. The Economic Commission in East Africa shares 
the view that the duty should faU on the consumer, but in 
that country the European settlers form a large section of 
the producers. Even in a country Uke West Africa, which 
exports raw materials only, the weight of opinion is strongly 

1 Letter to Colonial Office of 6th May 1921. 

The International Chamber of Commerce lately (1st July 1921) endorsed this 
view. "Considering," says the resolution, "that every tax on export of raw 
materials must necessarily increase the cost of production, and thereby hinder 
economic restoration," their abolition is recommended. If necessarily retained 
provisionally for revenue purposes "they should be adopted without any dis- 
crimination whatever as regards countries." See also Mr J. H. Batty 's reply to 
question 1239 by the Edible Nuts Committee.— Cd. 8247 of 1916. 

Export duties if imposed should be proportioned to the home market price, on 
the ad valorem principle, and not a fixed sum per ton. 


opposed to export duties. This view is reinforced by the 
psychology of the African, who will continue to produce so 
long as he gets a good price, and though he may hoard his 
receipts for a time, will eventually buy what he requires 
regardless of its price. The increased cost of imported goods 
must, it is argued, increase the volume of exports with which 
to pay for them. The import tariff should aim at placing 
on the free list all articles of food, and, as far as possible, 
building materials and the like, and the gradual substitution 
of speci&c duties for an ad valorem Ust. 

The advocates of export duties in Africa have, however, 
some cogent arguments to support their case. Eaw materials 
and foodstuffs are easily recognisable, and there is no need 
for the duty to discriminate as to value arising from quality, 
since the equal tax has the effect of penalising inferior qualities, 
and thus promoting a higher standard. 

Imports, on the other hand, are very varied, and textiles 
in particular may differ by every shade of gradation and 
price. The notable and practically universal integrity of the 
British merchant, and the shame and loss of standing which 
a conviction for fraudulent declaration would involve, are 
insufficient grounds to justify a system under which officers, 
charged by law with the duty of exercising a close super- 
vision, are necessarily unable to give fuU effect to it. For 
though a particular importer might be justly suspected of an 
endeavour to evade his fuU liabilities, the customs officers 
would not be justified in exposing his goods to a more rigorous 
examination than those of others — the more so that the 
examination of the majority of imports involves loss to the 
importer. Bales of goods for the African market have often 
to be packed at considerable cost in waterproof material, and 
in hooped and sizeable loads for transport to the interior, 
and if opened can with difficulty be repacked. Goods for 
export, on the other hand, can be dealt with solely by weight 
— the allowance for receptacles being uniform. Under a 
system of export duties it is easy to grant exemption or 
reduced duties on any particular product, the culture of which 
it is desired to encourage — e.g., cotton, or newly -introduced 
products. These critics do not, of course, suggest the entire 
abolition of import duties, but in the peculiar circumstances 
of African trade, they maintain that the prejudice against 
export duties is without adequate foundation. 


There is one article of native food which is largely im- 
ported, and often — as I think -wrongly — ^heavily taxed, viz., 
salt. The tax in Mgeria is £1 per ton — a rate which appears 
to be much less than the tax imposed in India.^ In my view 
the taxation of this article, of prime necessity to the native 
population, is to be deprecated. 

Commandant Binger, the French explorer, states that the 
lack of salt was one of the causes which promoted the internal 
slave trade in the region of the Upper Niger. For the salt 
came from the north, and in the absence of portable produce 
the vendors took slaves in payment. " When Europe [he 
says] can import salt at a reasonable price in the Mger bend, 
she wiU have rendered a true service to the native." * 

It is obvious that when imposing import — and more especi- 
ally export — duties, the question of the regions in which such 
imports are chiefly consumed, or in which such exports 
originate, is a matter of importance in regard to the inci- 
dence of taxation. Thus the import duty on " trade spirits " 
in West Africa fell entirely on those coastal regions in which 
their sale was not prohibited. By their recent prohibition 
those regions in Southern Mgeria pay about a million sterling 
less in indirect taxes. An export duty on palm kernels, and 
on cocao, falls on the inhabitants of the moist equatorial 
regions, from which alone these products are exported (which 
are, in fact, the same areas as those in which spirits are con- 
sumed) ; while a ground-nut duty falls chiefly on the people 
of the drier uplands. If, therefore, it is desired to impose a 
larger share of indirect taxation on those who do not pay a 
direct tax, or to reheve those whose produce has to bear 
enhanced transport charges, a careful adjustment of customs 
duties can be made to redress the balance in some small 
degree. Excessive import duties will, however, result in 
diminution of the stimulus to production — temporarily, at 
any rate — since the wants of the African are rarely necessities, 
and he can leave them ungratified. 

1 Prior to 1903 the tax was 3s. id. per maund (82 lb.— viz., 91s. per ton), 
amounting to over 200 per cent ad valorem. Locally-won salt was taxed at 1000 
per cent. A reduction of 25 per cent was made in 1 903. Since the daily wage 
rate in Nigeria is probably three or four times that of India, the burden on the 
Indian taxpayer was correspondingly greater. The price of imported salt at 
Kano (Nigeria), with 700 miles of rail freight, fell from 30s. per cwt. in 1908 to 
lis. in 1913. 

^ For the various sources of supply of local salt see Binger, ' Du Niger au 
Golfe de Guinee,' vol. i. p. 375. 


The keen competition between merchants, and the com- 
paratively heavy and bnlky nature of African produce relative 
to its value, impose, of course, a heavy handicap on the 
merchant who essays to develop regions in the interior, 
especially if they are remote from railways and navigable 
waters, in comparison with the trader who buys the same 
produce in easily accessible regions. In order to encourage the 
development of these remoter regions, it may be worth while 
to consider a system of customs rebates on a sUding scale, 
calcidated in proportion to the distance from the coast, and 
from rail or river, supported by certificates of origin. If in 
the most remote district the revenue derived no benefit by 
way of customs duties on imported goods, or on produce for 
export, the trader on the one hand would stiU have to meet 
his heavy transport charges, while the administration would 
benefit by the increase of trade and wealth, and the extension 
of the coin currency, which would facilitate the payment of 
the direct tax. 

But whatever may be the comparative advantages and 
disadvantages of import and export duties as a normal means 
of raising revenue, there is, of course, no question that — 
unless precluded by treaty — either is capable of being used 
as a powerful agency to restrict imports from, or exports to, 
foreign countries in favour of home or Empire markets. 
Moreover, if a country produces an article which is in great 
demand, and the supply of which is limited and regional, the 
advocates of export duties point out that revenue may un- 
doubtedly be obtained at the expense of the foreign consumer 
by a preferential export duty. 

After the war a preferential export duty was introduced 
in the West African dependencies, admittedly in order to 
secure for the Empire a monopoly of palm kernels. It has 
been the subject of much controversy in both Houses' of 
Parliament,^ and in the Press ; and, since its imposition 
affects fundamental principles, the matter merits careful 

The war profoundly changed the economic conditions of 
the world. Some of the economic results affecting the rela- 
tions of British African tropics to the United Kingdom may 
perhaps be briefly summarised as follows : — 

(a) Great Britain now reahsed that it had been the de- 

1 'Debates' of 17th December 1919 and 13th May 1920, &c. 


liberate policy of Germany — ^taking advantage of the " open 
door " — ^to monopolise the supply from the British depend- 
encies of certain raw materials which were essential to some 
of our principal industries, and for the manufacture of muni- 
tions in time of war. Great Britain and her Allies determined 
in future to safeguard these supplies. 

(6) The financial strain residting from the war gave rise 
to various proposals for rehabilitating the finances of the 
United Eongdom, opposed to the accepted principles which 
had hitherto guided the policy or practice of England towards 
her tropical dependencies. Those put forward by the Empire 
Eesources Development Committee were very iofluentially 

(c) The realisation of the importance of drawiag together 
all parts of the Empire, and making it self-supporting, 
strengthened the hands of those who had long advocated 
" Imperial Preference," and it became the accepted policy 
in regard to the Crown colonies. 

As regards the first of these three heads, representatives 
of the Allies met in Paris in June 1916, and passed a series 
of resolutions,^ which were accepted by Mr Asquith's Govern- 
ment, in so far as they related to the transitional period after 
the war.^ By Eesolution B. iii., " the Allies declared them- 
selves agreed to conserve for the aUied countries before aU 
others their material resources during the whole period of 
reconstruction." The Government thereupon appointed an 
extremely strong Committee, under Lord Balfour of Burleigh 
(which included the chairmen of a number of departmental 
committees previously appointed by the Board of Trade), 
" to consider the commercial and industrial policy to be 
adopted after the war, with special reference to the conclu- 
sions reached at the Paris Conference." 

In the previous year — 1915 — ^the Colonial Secretary (Mr 
Bonar Law) had appointed a Committee to study the trade 
in palm kernels and other oil-producing nuts and seeds, and 
" to make recommendations for the promotion in the United 
Kingdom of the industries dependent thereon." ^ The Com- 
mittee reported in May 1916. Germany, they said, had 
before the war monopolised three - fourths of the export of 
kernels, and on the assumption that with her mUls undamaged 

1 Cd. 8271 of 1916. 2 cd. 9035 of 1918, paragraph 3 

3 Cd. 8247 of 1916. 


she woxild after the war be ready to offer extravagant prices 
to regain her monopoly, it was necessary, in order to induce 
British crushers to erect mills at heavy outlay, to offer them 
a guarantee for a limi ted period (five years), until their mills 
were established, so that they should be able to obtain kernels 
at reasonable prices. The Committee recommended legisla- 
tion in the colonies, on the lines eventually adopted. A 
precisely similar recommendation was, as we shaU see, made 
by the Textiles Committee (set up by the Board of Trade) in 
regard to Indian jute.^ 

Lord Balfour's Committee reported in December 1916 that 
" effect cannot be given to these (Paris) Besolutions unless 
export restrictions are placed during the transitory period 
on a certain number of important articles, . . . and any 
measures taken for the purpose should aim at assuring to the 
British Empire and the Allies priority for their requirements, 
and at preventing the present enemy countries from gaining 
by the use of such materials an initial advantage in the com- 
petition to recover markets which will follow the war." ^ 
They refer to the proposals made in regard to palm kernels, 
and suggest that India should be asked to devise measures 
with a similar object in view, and add : " We do not over- 
look the fact that objection may be taken to the restricted 
policy which we recommend, on the groimd that the burden 
may fall unduly upon the individual producer, whose price 
may be lowered by the restriction of his market. In our 
opinion it is particularly important to avoid even the appear- 
ance of any such penaUsation, especially in cases in which 
the interests of native subjects of the Empire are concerned. 
We think, however, that if the policy is limited, as we have 
recommended, to materials of which the greater part of the 
supply can be absorbed by the United Kingdom and the 
Allies, it wiU be possible, in consultation with the various 
Governments concerned, to devise satisfactory safeguards to 
meet the danger." * 

Ordinances to give effect to this pohcy and restrict the 
export of palm kernels to Empire markets were accordingly 
introduced by order of the Secretary of State in the Legisla- 
tures of the West African colonies. The unofficial members 
of the Gold Coast voted unanimously against it. In Nigeria 

1 Cd. 9070-73 of 1918. = Cd. 9034 of 1918, paragraph 4. 

^ Ibid., paragraphs 21 and 22. 


the matter was debated both in the Nigerian Council and 
in the Legislative Council of the colony. There was no dis- 
sentient opinion, and the leading native speaker cordially- 
endorsed the proposals. 

The justification of these measures lay in the fact that 
they were designed to meet special conditions arising out of 
the war, and were of a temporary nature. They were based 
on the recommendations of two very representative Com- 
mittees, with the object of giving effect to a policy which had 
received international sanction, and to transfer to the United 
Kingdom an industry essential to defence in a future war.^ 

This, if properly explained to the people of West Africa, 
would not be resented, since the United Kingdom was able 
to take the whole of the output, and the unrestricted market 
for the manufactured article, and keen competition between 
merchants assured fair prices to the producer. If, however, 
the position of the British mill-owners is already assured, 
it devolves upon them voluntarily to forgo the benefit of an 
implied assurance, as I have ventured to suggest.^ 

But whatever may be the merits of the controversy which 
has raged so fiercely in Parliament and the Press, it has one 
aspect in which all who are interested in the Empire can only 
rejoice. It has shown that oux professed concern for the 
rights of the natives, and our obUgations as trustee on their 

' Id a striking passage that ardent free-trader, Adam Smith, after setting out 
an overwhelming case against the restrictive principles embodied in the " Act of 
Navigation," says that, "since defence is of far greater importance than opu- 
lence," that Act "was perhaps the wisest of all the commercial regulations of 
England." — 'Wealth of Nations,' vol. ii. p. 195. 

^ 'Times,' Slst December 1919. While some maintain that the duty has 
enabled the crushers in England to control the kernel market, knowing that 
importers could not ship their kernels abroad, Mr J. H. Batty (head of the 
African and Eastern Trade Corporation), than whom there is probably no higher 
authority, observed to me lately that this tax had " more than served its pur- 
pose " in West Africa. Though no less opposed to it in principle than myself, 
he held that it had been amply justified in the special circumstances as a tem- 
porary measure. Germany, with her mills intact, with special facilities for 
supplying the markets of Austria, Russia, and Eastern Europe generally, by rail 
without breaking bulk, desired again to invade West Africa and capture the 
kernel trade. She had, however, been prevented by the duty, and had therefore 
substituted copra, principally from the Dutch East Indies, thus relieving the 
palm-kernel market of a serious competitor, and extending the demand for 
kernels. The merchant, he added, had not lost a penny by the tax, nor had the 
natives, since prices had been steadily maintained by competition. The proof of 
this could be seen in the prices ruling — both previously and to-day — as compared 
with copra, which for all practical purposes supplies the same needs. 

A similar duty under home instructions had for some time been imposed on 
tin. Compare also the Malayan duty, imposed to prevent a foreign monopoly. — 
'Malaya,' p. 333. 


behalf, are neither camouflage nor "uncttious righteousness," 
but that it is a tradition held deep in the hearts of the British 
people, for any infringement of which, however temporary 
and exceptional, an explanation and justification is at once 

The vindication of the principle that a trustee Power is 
not justifled in arbitrarily restricting the markets of its 
ward leads us to the consideration of the case of cotton. The 
increasing absorption by the United States of her own cotton 
for her own industries, and the consequently decreasing 
quantity available for export, has compelled this country to 
adopt a programme for the growing of cotton within the 
Empire, on the assumption that the cotton so grown will be 
available for the looms of Lancashire. In so far as the cotton 
is the product of British-owned plantations (as in the Sudan, 
Gezirah, and K'yasaland), no question can of course arise ; 
but where (as in Nigeria and other protectorates) it is a 
native crop, is the market to be restricted to Great Britain ? 
That colonial revenues have been spent in improving the 
quality, &c., gives the British market no claim to a monopoly, 
for such revenues belong to the colony, and are rightly spent 
in developing its resources. But if funds belonging to the 
taxpayers of England, or if private capital has been spent ia 
promoting the industry in a British colony, is Germany or 
Japan to have the right to underbid the British merchant 
and buy the crop ? 

In 1916 the Board of Trade appointed a Committee to 
report {inter alia) regarding the textile industry, and its 
report was issued in 1918.^ Following the general Unes of 
Lord BalEour of Burleigh's Committee, it recommended that 
the Empire's resources in raw material should be safeguarded, 
and utilised for the requirements of the Empire, and for 
purposes of negotiation with other countries, and that an 
export duty (e.g., on jute) should be imposed in India, with 
a total rebate for the United Kingdom, i But the Cotton 
Committee, appointed by the Government of India in Septem- 
ber 1917, aflflrmed that the interests of the cultivator must 
be paramount — a stipulation to which the Empire Cotton 
Growing Committee " heartily agreed." ^ Thus any restric- 
tion of the market in the interests of the United Kingdom is 

1 Cd. 9370 of 1918. 

^ Cmd. 523 of 1920, p. 42. See also the debate in the House of Lords of 
12th July 1920. This latter " Committee " has now been constituted under Royal 


ruled out, and if the growth of cotton is increased in India, 
the surplus may go to the country which offers the best price 
instead of to England, whose manufacturers and taxpayers 
have spent money in its development. Or to put it in an- 
other way, it might seem equally beneficial to promote cotton- 
growing in China as in the Empire. 

The figures given by the Board of Trade ^ show that for 
the quinquennial period 1912-13 to 1916-17, only 7 per cent 
of the Indian crop was received by Great Britain, while 
55 per cent went to Japan. In the last year (with the elimina- 
tion of Germany and other countries) the proportion was 
9'7 per cent to the United Kingdom, and nearly 70 per cent ^ 
to Japan. Though the bulk of the crop is stated to be at 
present of too short a staple for the needs of Lancashire, this 
is only a temporary condition, and our efforts to increase the 
length of staple will presently begiu to show results. Japan, 
however, will also require a longer staple as the standard of 
her manufactures improves. 

The Empire Cotton Growing Committee has, of course, 
carefully considered this matter. Its view is that the grant 
of public money is principally for the benefit of those parts 
of the Empire in which cotton is growa,^ and where it would 
not be grown unless it was to the advantage of the coimtry 
growing it. They hold to the great principle that " any 
specific control of the destination of the crop is impracticable 
and undesirable " — ^but they think it certain that an indefinite 
preference wiU be indirectly secured for spinners in the British 
Empire ; and finally, it is beyond question that in case of 
war it is of the first importance that suppUes of cotton should 
be available in the Empire itself, so that we should not have 
to depend solely on other countries, however friendly they 
may be. Thus the general principle is afiOrmed that any 
restriction forcibly imposed upon the markets of the pro- 
Charter as a permanent " Corporation " for the promotion of cotton -growing in 
the Empire, and must not be confused with the various " Committees " appointed 
to report. 

1 'Board of Trade Journal,' 2nd May 1918. See also Cmd. 51 of 1919, p. 322. 

^ See also Indian Progress Report for 1917-1918, published in 1919, where the 
percentage is given as 71 per cent (p. 101). 

^ This view will not, I think, find general acceptance. Parliament agreed to 
this additional burden on the British taxpayer, not as a subsidy to India, 
Nigeria, or Uganda, but in the interests of the great Lancashire industry. 
It may, however, be regarded as a form of Imperial preference, in accordance 
with the suggestion of Lord Balfour's Committee, referred to on page 278, in 
which case reciprocity could be asked. 


ducing country for the benefit of the Controlling Power is 
contrary to the theory of trusteeship.i 

I come now to the second of the headings, imder which 
I summarised some of the economic effects, resulting from 
the war, on the relations of the African dependencies to the 
United Kingdom — viz., the proposals for rehabilitating the 
Imperial finances by schemes such as those put forward by 
the " Empire Eesources Development Committee." 

I have, I think, conclusively shown in an article in 'The 
Nineteenth Century' * that such of these proposals as relate 
to the African dependencies, and aim "at promoting the 
development for profit under State auspices, and participa- 
tion of selected resources," cannot be adopted except at the 
sacrifice of fundamental principles. These particular pro- 
posals have not been pressed of late, and it will therefore 
suffice to refer my reader to the article aUuded to, in which 
they are examined in detail. They appear to contemplate 
a complete or partial monopoly by the controUing Power, 
by which the natives would be compelled to seU their produce 
to its agents, so that the profits may be acquired not by the 
individual merchant, or even by the local Government for 
the benefit of the country, but in liquidation of the British 
war debt, under a system which must necessarily involve 
the fixing of prices for labour and produce, and the restric- 
tion of markets. The patriotic proposers had not, I venture 
to think, fully realised the implications of their scheme, 
which in essential principles appears to resemble the former 
regime of the Congo State, on the abandonment of which 
the British Government insisted before it accorded its recog- 
nition of the reversion of the State to Belgium.* The market 
is at present weU supplied with capital.* 

' The 'Times' (18th December 1919) gave publicity to an unpublished letter 
from thejBritiah to the French Government, dated 28th May 19i8, which stated 
that, after the needs of this country had been met, ' ' the resources in raw materials 
of the British Empire will be at the disposal of France and other Allies. Only 
after the Allies have obtained what they require for their economic development 
will the resources of our Empire be offered to neutral Powers, and lastly to the 
countries with which we are now at war." This would seem to be a formal and 
precise pledge of a very sweeping nature, unrestricted in time, or as to the 
nature of the raw materials, or the consent of the colonies concerned, and would 
seem to assume the right of the British Government to deal as it may think fit 
with the produce of the tropical dependencies. 

2 " The Crown Colonies and the British War-debt," August 1920. 

' Prof. Keith, ' African Society Journal,' July 1918, p. 256, citing State Paper 
107, p. 352. 

* The chairman of the Association of West African Merchants wrote to the 



But if such schemes as these must be ruled out as inad- 
missible, are we to accept the conclusion that the peoples 
of the tropical dependencies are to bear no share in the finan- 
cial burden of the war, which was fought no less for their 
liberties than for our own ? National liberty in these days 
depends largely on national wealth, for only the wealthiest 
nations can afford to maintain the great armies and navies 
and aix services on which the defence of those liberties de- 
pends. It is therefore to the self-iaterest of the subject races 
that Great Britain should remain wealthy enough to support 
the burden. But the war has left her with a colossal debt, 
and a scale of taxation which cripples enterprise. 

From these financial burdens the tropical dependencies 
are to a large extent exempt. To some of them the war and 
the period succeeding it even brought added prosperity, and 
notwithstanding any temporary set-back, the demand for their 
foodstuffs and raw materials is assured, and promises a pros- 
perous future. They helped to win the war ; are they incap- 
able of some voluntary self-sacrifice in order to help " to win 
the peace " ? State monopoUes, fixed prices for produce and 
labour, confiscation of lands, compulsory service — none of 
these things should we ask of them. But is it too much to 
ask of the native producer that he should voluntarily give a 
preference to British requirements for a definitely limited 
period, and acquiesce in the limitation of his market, pro- 
vided that the whole of his output is absorbed at remunerative 
prices, and that the particular product is one of essential 
importance to British industry ? In the case of cotton, for 
instance, he would not thereby be contributing to " capitalistic 
profits," for the Empire Cotton Corporation is pledged to make 
no profits, and the British consumers have imposed upon them- 
selves a tax of 6d. per bale to provide funds for its activities. 
Competition by merchants on the spot will assure fair prices. 

Voluntary acquiescence, if genuine — ^that is to say, if it 
can be obtained by a widespread knowledge of the facts — is 

Press (10th November 1916) that "British merchants have been and are 
prepared to find all the capital required for its (Nigeria's) development, and have 
at present invested there probably two million more than before the war." 
Much capital has been invested since that date, and in addition we have Lever 
Bros., Jurgens & Co., and other large capitalists outside the Liverpool group. 
Moreover, the credit of West African dependencies is good enough to enable 
them to raise whatever loans they may need. 


the better way. But the trustee Power is also entitled to 
consider, if need be, what definite obUgations are being in- 
curred by its ward for which an adequate return is due. I 
do not refer to financial assistance in the early years, nor 
am I oblivious to the indirect advantages which accrue to a 
trustee, however freely " equal opportunity " is accorded to 
the commerce of all nations. 

But can it be said that there is any violation of funda- 
mental principles if a colony, when it has reached a stage of 
prosperity, should be asked to make some contribution to the 
Navy on which it is dependent for its defence from its sur- 
plus revenue — ^viz., from the balance remaining when ordi- 
nary administrative expenditure has been met — ^which is a 
measure of its prosperity, and is normally devoted to develop- 
ment ? The principle has long been in application in our 
Eastern colonies, where a military contribution is levied — 
not with their consent, and not for the purpose of maintain- 
ing troops for the preservation of law and order in the colonies 
themselves. The Empire is based on the relations of the family, 
and not on those of the syndicate. The African, who shares 
with us its benefits, must learn that it is his duty and his 
privilege to share its burdens. This ideal should be more 
adequately explained to him. 

On the other hand, it has been alleged, both in East ^ and 
West Africa, that the local forces maintained by the African 
dependencies are in excess of the needs of the colonies for 
local defence and police purposes. Many of these dependencies 
— ^Nigeria, the Gold Coast, Kenya, Uganda, and IS'yasaland 
— had frontiers coterminous with German colonies, and the 
events of the war have shown that so long at least as that 
aggressive Power remained a menace to the world, the colonial 
forces were necessarily maintained at a high strength. Whether 
they can now be reduced is a matter for consideration. 

I come to my last heading — Imperial Preference. This 
stands on a different footing, for it has no necessary relation 
to war legislation or post-bellum economic conditions, and is 
in principle wholly voluntary. The case for the imposition 
of a tariff was put by Colonel Amery — than whom no one is 

^ Mr Wallie, late Chief Secretary of Uganda, asserts that the King's African 
Rifles are not required by Kenya or Uganda, and should be disbanded or paid for 
by the War Office,— 'Times,' 23rd August 1921. 


better qualified to state it, — writing from East Africa so long 
ago as January 1908 : — 

" What inducement is there," he asks, " for the British 
taxpayer to undertake all this increased expenditure — or, 
at least, increased financial responsibility ? . . . Under the 
fiscal system at present prevailing both in England and in 
the territories under Colonial Office control, there is no guar- 
antee whatever that the market, when developed, wiU be a 
market for English rather than for foreign goods, or that the 
raw materials will go to British factories rather than to the 
factories of our rivals. Why should not British industry 
have that guarantee in return for the expenditure and risk 
incurred by the British taxpayer ? Why should not the 
producer in these new territories give that guarantee in 
return for the estabUshment of the settled conditions which 
make this industry possible ? " Colonel Amery even goes so 
far as to say that " Ifo one can suggest that a preference in 
favour of British imports into East Africa, or — what is more 
desirable — a differential export tax on raw materials exported 
from East Africa to foreign countries, is likely to inflict hard- 
ship upon either native or settler, or to retard the develop- 
ment of the country." ^ 

It is worth while to examine these proposals carefully, 
for they appear at iirst sight to enshroud the principles of 
the pahn-kemel export duty under the comfortkig title of 
Imperial preference. A preferential export duty may, as we 
have seen, inflict considerable loss on the producers, by de- 
priving them of the high prices which foreign nations are will- 
ing to pay for their raw materials. The controlling Power 
woiild benefit, as in the old plantation system, by a monopoly. 
Nor does the export tax even benefit the local revenue, for 
in effect it is rarely levied. It is intentionally made pro- 
hibitive, so as to ensure the monopoly. 

What, then, has the controlling power to offer in return, 
so that it may properly come under the designation of a re- 
ciprocal preference ? There are duties (for revenue purposes) 
on tea, sugar, coffee, cocoa, and tobacco, and these could be 
remitted, as proposed by Lord BaLEoux of Burleigh's Com- 
mittee, " as a first measure of colonial preference," ^ but they 

1 'Union and Strength,' L. S. Amery, pp. 290, 291. 

2 Cd. 9035, p. 48, paragraph 237. The East African " Economic Commission," 
while expressing readiness to give a preference to the United Kingdom, apparently 


do not touch the bulk of the exports from tropical Africa, 
which are imported duty-free into the United Kingdom. To 
give a preference to these, it would be necessary to impose 
duties on all such articles imported from foreign countries, 
and to remit them for Empire-grown produce. 

But African products do not suffer appreciably from foreign 
competition. Already they have a duty-free market in the 
United "Kingdom, and the object in view is not to exclude 
foreign competition, but to attract to England produce which 
otherwise woidd find a more remunerative market abroad. 
Such a differential export duty, if forced on a reluctant colony 
for the benefit of home trade, is, as Lord Emmot says, the 
absolute negation of the voluntary principle.^ But if the 
principle of equal opporininity be applied absolutely without 
reservation, what advantage, asks Colonel Amery, does the 
controlling power gain to compensate for the burden it sus- 
tains ? I shall deal with this question in my last chapter. 

But Colonel Amery does not contemplate compulsion. He 
assumes the export tax to be self-imposed voluntarily, with 
the object of inducing the British Exchequer to incur further 
expenditure in the development of the country, and to guar- 
antee to the British taxpayer the benefit of the money so 
expended. In my view, private capital, attracted by the 
prospects of the country, or raised by way of loans on the 
security of the revenues — ^it need be with the assistance of an 
Imperial guarantee — ^is preferable to grants from the Ex- 
chequer. But the principle of voluntary assistance to the 
Mother Coimtry by African dependencies — even though it 
may involve sacrifice — ^is a separate issue, with which I have 
already dealt. 

Colonel Amery's alternative, which he regards with less 
favour, is a preference on British imported goods. Since 
the local revenue (which in some dependencies is largely 
derived from customs) could not afford a reduction in exist- 
ing customs duties (for the loss would have to be made good by 
some equivalent tax), the preference would no doubt take the 
form of additional duties on goods of foreign origin. Leaving 
out of account the question of commercial and other treaties 
(viz., the Berlin and Brussels Acts and the Conventions of 

asks in return for a subsidy to shipping lines for special, freights for certain 
products for a limited time. Loo. cit., p. 26. 
' House of Lords debate of 17th May 1920. 


June 1898 and of September 1919), and that of retaliation 
by foreign Powers — both very important considerations — 
how would such action affect the purely Imperial preference 
point of view ? 

It would be a genuine preference, and it would probably 
not be opposed by the dependencies, for the bulk of their 
imports are already from the United Kingdom, and would 
remain unaffected. The colonial consumer would suffer in 
some degree, no doubt, by the loss of cheap foreign goods, 
but there is much to be said for such a preference if the 
Mother Country can offer some equivalent. There may be 
some articles iu which the Empire output is insufficient to 
supply the home market and foreign competition makes itself 
felt. In such a case duties could be imposed, and in the words 
of Lord Balfour's Committee, " preferential treatment should 
be accorded in respect of any customs duties now or hereafter 
to be imposed in the United Kingdom." ^ The Committee 
suggests also " the expediency of considering measures of 
Imperial preference other than the imposition of differential 
customs duties — as, for example, Government contracts to 
purchase for a term of years, at guaranteed minimum prices, 
part or the whole of the output of materials of great industrial 
importance ... or financial assistance from the home Gov- 
ernment towards the development of Imperial resources." " 

Following these pronouncements, a notice appeared in the 
' Board of Trade Journal ' announcing that reduced rates as 
specified therein would be charged on certain goods " con- 
signed from, grown, produced, or manufactured in the British 
Empire." ^ 

It is, of course, more than probable that if Great Britain 
restricted the produce of her colonies to her own markets, 
she would provoke foreign countries to a poUcy of retaUation. 
It was pointed out in the palm-kernels debate that the United 
States and Belgium (Congo) were bound by treaties to exact 
no preferential duties against Great Britain, on the grounds 
that they have free access to her colonial markets. France 
has deprived herseff of the weapon of retaliation by her own 
exclusive policy, and in the letter quoted by Lord Mayo in 

1 Cd. 9035 of 1918, paragraph 254. 

^ Ibid., paragraph 239. For the application of this principle to Empire-grown 
cotton, see p. 272. 

' ' Board of Trade Journal,' 9th September 1920. 


that debate, the French Government formally notifted to our 
Foreign Office her intention to retain for her own sole use 
the raw materials of her colonies.^ 

Thus the fear of jeopardising our commercial relations 
with foreign Powers, no less than the extreme reluctance we 
should feel in forgoing the proud boast that Britain alone 
holds her colonies open to all the world, would add to the 
regret with which we should adopt such a policy otherwise 
than as a temporary measure arising out of the war, afEecting 
one group of colonies, and one or two products only. Exclusive 
tariffs are dangerous weapons, apt to injure the hand which 
uses them, opposed to the traditions of British trade, and 
contrary to the agreement of the Economic Conference, which 
pledged the Allies " to adopt measures for faciUtating their 
mutual trade relations." 

Let us hope that the nations whose destinies the war has 
shown to be closely interdependent may learn that recipro- 
city is a better word than restriction, and carry its operation 
even beyond the sphere of tariffs. Nigeria, for instance, has 
assisted France by allowing French goods to pass over her 
railways to Zinder. Mutual reciprocity would guarantee like 
facilities over any railway which France may build thence to 
the Mediterranean. 

' "After the war," says a French writer, "France must as far as possible live 
on the products of her colonial lands ... by reserving for French commerce her 
colonial market, so that neither enemy, nor neutral, nor ally shall profit unduly 
from the colonies of France. " 




The natural evolution of conceptions of land tenure — The problem in 
West Africa — Committees on West African lands — West African 
land tenure : (a) Tribal and family ; (6) Individual ownership ; (c) 
Absence of tenure — Summary re land tenure — Eights of conquest — 
Recognition of private rights — Necessity for declaration of policy — 
View of the Committee — Nationalisation — The economic doctrine — 
Criticism and fears — Actual practice in Northern Nigeria — Summary 
of criticism of Northern Nigeria land law — Encouragement of small 
holdings — Large estates — Transfers between natives — Acquisition of 
land by Government and aliens in conquered countries — Shifting 
cultivation — Curtailment or increase of tribal or village lands — 
Summary of Government and native rights in controlled lands — 
Freehold and communal tenure. 

I PEOPOSB in this and the following chapter to discuss the 
question of land in the British African tropics, only in so 
far as it presents itself as an administrative problem. Speak- 
ing generally, it may, I think, be said that conceptions as 
to the tenure of land are subject to a steady evolution, side 
by side with the evolution of social progress, from the most 
primitive stages to the organisation of the modern State. 
In the earliest stage the land and its produce is shared by 
the commimity as a whole ; later the produce is the property 
of the family or individuals by whose toil it is won, and the 
control of the land becomes vested iu the head of the family. 
When the tribal stage is reached, the control passes to the 
chief, who allots unoccupied lands at wUl, but is not justi- 
fied in dispossessiug any family or person who is using the 
land. Later still, especially when the pressure of popu- 
lation has given to the land an exchange value, the 
conception of proprietary rights ia it emerges, and sale, 


mortgage, and lease of the land, apart from its user, is 

Conquest vests the control of the land in the conqueror, 
who in savage warfare also disposes of the lives and chattels 
of the conquered, but he usually finds it necessary to con- 
form largely to the existing law and custom. In civilised 
countries conquest does not justify confiscation of private 
rights in land. 

These processes of natural evolution, leading up to individ- 
ual ownership, may, I believe, be traced in every civilisation 
known to history. Ahab, 900 years B.C., was unable to dis- 
possess Ifaboth of the private ownership of his vineyard 
without violation of accepted principles ; China for centuries 
has recognised individual property in land, as did Babylon 
5000 years ago,^ and as the nations of Europe do to-day.^ 

In Africa every stage of this process of evolution may be 
encountered. The problem with which a Government has 

' There are, says Professor Berriedale Keith ('African Society's Journal,' April 
1912), two opposing theories as to the evolution of the ownership of land. Some, 
following Sir H. Maine, hold that the land is first owned by the tribe, then by the 
village community, and finally by the individual. Others maintain that the 
individual was the original owner, and that ownership by the community or tribe, 
so far as it is real and not a matter of territorial sovereignty, is a later conception. 

I venture to think that neither theory is exclusive. When a swarming horde of 
invaders enters an inhabited country the earlier possessors are ousted. Each unit 
seizes the land it requires, and eventually village boundaries are recognised. If 
the invaders had already attained to a tribal organisation, vacant lands are at the 
disposal of the tribal head ; if not, they remain indeterminate, until that stage is 
reached. They are at the disposal of the territorial chief, not as owner, but in his 
capacity as sovereign of the tribe. On the other hand, where possession has been 
acquired by the occupation of uninhabited and unclaimed lands — a condition 
which applies to areas left derelict by pestilence, slave-raids, or famine — or by 
gradual encroachment on grazing lands, which the tribe in possession is no longer 
able to defend, individual settlement and ownership probably preceded that of the 
family or tribe. These academic theories are, however, immaterial to the indis- 
putable fact that, whatever the origins of land tenure, the inevitable tendency 
has been towards the recognition of individual proprietary rights in land pari passu 
with social evolution. 

M. Delaf osse — a translation of whose admirable memorandum on land tenure 
in French West Africa may be found in the ' African Society's Journal,' 1910, pp. 
259-273 — asserts that this difierence in the original method of acquisition afiects 
the existing tenure of land. " Depending," he says, "upon whether the conquest 
or original occupation was the work of a single chief or of a community acting 
without any one directing force, so will ownership of land be found to be vested 
either in the chief or in the community." In the former case, he says, the chief 
has the rights of proprietor, and "real owner," and can alienate at will — in the 
latter he has no such rights, and acts only as trustee. 

^ ' Ownership, Tenure, and Taxation of Land,' Whittaker, p. 40. 

' " Nobody is at liberty to attack several property and to say at the same time 
that he values civilisation. The history of the two cannot be disentangled." — 
Maine, 'Village Communities,' p. 230. 


to deal consists, on the one hand, in adjusting land ques- 
tions between natives, which otherwise would lead to quarrels 
and bloodshed — questions often complicated by the dis- 
integration of tribal authority and native custom, due to 
extraneous influences. On the other hand, the Government 
must control generally the acquisition of land by non-natives. 

As regards the second of these two tasks, it is manifest 
that there exists a fundamental difference between those 
countries in which there is a dense native population, and 
Europeans and others enter for a more or less temporary 
residence, and those in which the climate attracts European 
settlers, and the sparsity of the native population admits 
of the settlement of non-natives — European and Asiatic. 
The group of West African colonies and protectorates are 
typical of the former, and since their population and the 
volume of their trade with the outside world is much greater 
than that of aU the remainder i put together, I propose to 
deal with them at some length. 

In 1908 Lord Crewe, then Secretary of State for the 
Colonies, appointed a committee to investigate the subject 
of land tenure in Northern Nigeria, and to advise as to the 
system which should be adopted by Government.^ In 1912 
Mr (now Lord) Harcourt (Lord Crewe's successor) appointed 
another committee under the same chairman, with similar 
instructions as regards the remaining dependencies in West 
Africa. They were to report " whether any, and if so what, 
amendment of the laws is required, either on the lines of the 
Northern Nigeria Lands Proclamation or otherwise." War 
broke out before they had completed their report, which 
was never made pubUc.^ Earlier in 1912 Mr Harcourt had 
already sent Mr (now Sir Henry) Belfield to make inquiries 

' The population of British West Africa is estimated at 21,823,000, and its 
trade is valued at £49,820,000. The aggregate population of the whole of the 
remaining British dependencies in tropical Africa (excluding Mauritius, the 
Seychelles, St Helena, and Ascension) is put at 16,149,600, and the value of their 
trade at £26,759,000 (see Table, p. 45). 

- Cd. 5102 and 5108 of 1910. The committee sat for two months and 
examined eight witnesses, two of whom were members of the committee, two 
were Englishmen connected with commerce, and the remainder were officials. 
They also had at their disposal memoranda on the subject issued by the Governor 
and his predecessor to Residents in Nigeria. 

' The second committee was appointed in June 1912 and finally dissolved in 
1915. They examined a very great number of witnesses, including natives, and 
a great mass of correspondence was laid before them, in addition to the volumin- 
ous evidence taken in West Africa, and Sir H. Belfield's report. 


into the system of administration of land in the Gold Coast, 
and his report was published in July of that year.^ 

An immense mass of evidence was taken on commission in 
Africa for the " West African Lands Committee." That from 
Nigeria passed through my hands, and from it and Sir H. 
Belfleld's report on the Gold Coast it is possible to arrive 
at some broad conclusions as to the conceptions regarding 
the ownership and transfer of lands held by the people of 
West Africa, the more so that the system of land tenure is 
known to be very similar in aU these dependencies. 

It may be assumed that Africa was densely populated long 
before the tribes which now hold sway settled on their respec- 
tive lands.* Title to land accrued to the latest conquerors, 
and where land had become derelict as a result of extermina- 
tion, slave-raids, migration, or pestilence, the individual who 
first reclaimed it claimed ownership of it for himself and his 
descendants. The title to such land was vested in the head 
of the family, and further areas reclaimed by its members 
were added to the family lands. Intervening unoccupied 
areas were later included. The tribal chief allotted the con- 
quered lands to families, and the disposal of any vacant lands 
not iQcluded in those claimed by any family was vested in 
him. In some tribes the family remained the important 
unit, as in the Gold Coast and Torubaland, in others it 
became merged in the tribe. In the former case there would 
be two classes of unoccupied land — ^family and tribal.^ Pri- 
meval forests, unoccupied by man for centuries, the natural 
barriers between warring tribes, became gradually included 

' Cd. 6278 of 1912. The report is dated 18th June 1912, aud 13 accompanied 
by notes of evidence, addresses, &c. , by fifty-seven persons. His instructions are 
not quoted, but in an address to the chiefs and others Mr Belfield stated that 
"the principal object of my mission is to make inquiry into the system of 
administration of land in the Gold Coast Colony " (p. 4). 

^ Many, especially of the native vfitnesses, appear to ignore this fact, and speak 
as if the earliest founders of the existing tribes came, like the sons of Noah, into a 
wholly uninhabited land, and pegged out claims which developed by a symmetri- 
cal process from the original founder, through the family and the tribe, to the 
kingship — though nothing, I imagine, is more certain than that the populations 
of this continent have been subject to constant displacement by more powerful 
neighbours. The Yoruba and other native legends (like the Hebrew myths) are 
apt to attribute the foundation of the tribe to a single semi-divine ancestor, who 
settled in a waste land and gradually populated it. These witnesses testify that 
the idea of unoccupied and unappropriated land is contrary to all native concep- 
tions, but fail to see that this strong assertion is incompatible with the thesis on 
which they found the claims of existing tribes. 

^ Belfleld's Report, paragraphs 19-26 and 48. See note 1, next page. 


in one or the other class, and were recognised as the inalien- 
able property of the neighbouring community. 

Starting from these hypotheses, the evidence appears to 
show that the following general principles — ^with local varia- 
tions — ^became consolidated. The tribal land at the disposal 
of the chief might be allotted either to families which had 
outgrown their family lands, or to strangers who desired to 
settle among the tribe, provided that they paid the customary 
tribute and dues. Family lands are at the disposal of the 
head of the family, and every member of the family has a 
right to a share in the land — a right which is not forfeited 
even by prolonged absence. The holder and his descendants 
have undisturbed possession in perpetuity, and all rights of 
ownership, except that they cannot alienate the land so as 
to deprive the chief of his ultimate control over it. The 
occupier's title is held by virtue of his membership of the 
family, and perpetuates in the name of its head. 

The produce of the land is the property of the occupier, 
and he may own trees planted by himself, either on unoccupied 
land or on land occupied by another. He may sell or pawn 
the crops on his land, or trees owned by him, but not the 
land itself. He may be ousted from his holding for offences 
against the commimity, including failure to pay customary 
tribute ; and upon the general acknowledgment of their right 
to allocate land, and to enforce punishment in respect of it, 
depends the prestige of the chiefs. Hence the system of 
ruling through the chiefs depends on the recognition by 
Government of these powers. A chief acts as trustee for the 
tribe in regard to land. " He is joint owner with his people, 
and he cannot exercise any proprietary rights without the 
co-operation of his people," said the deputation on the Gold 
Coast Forest BiU.^ Consequent on these assumptions, it is 
maintained that " every acre of land is the property of some 
tribe, family, or individual," including forest and swamp.^ 

1 Native deputation to Secretary of State, July 1912. Monsieur Delafosse 
notes that among the northern tribes, as contrasted with "the tribes of the 
forest zone," control of the land is more often exercised by an individual chief, 
there is usually less tribal land, and absolute alienation of land to a stranger is 
less difficult than among the forest tribes. Loc. cit. 

2 Belfield, paragraph 22. See Maine, loc. cit., p. 121. "The so-called waste 
lands (in India) are part of the domain of the various communities which the 
villagers theoretically are only waiting opportunity to bring under cultivation. " 
Some witnesses before the Committee made the same assertion as regards Northern 
Nigeria, but in my opinion it is unquestionable that in that country there are 


It is clear from this description that African land tenure 
is not " communal " in the sense of tenure in common. ^ Its 
fundamental characteristic seems rather to be an individual 
tenure of land derived from the common stock at the dis- 
posal of the tribe or family. ^ Such a tenure woxdd tend to 
develop very rapidly into individual ownership, and evidence 
that this was the case was given by several witnesses — and 
much more is available. 

Side by side with these primitive conceptions of land 
tenure, we find a growing recognition of the conception of 
individual ownership. This is due in part to the natural 
evolution to which I have referred, and in part to the intro- 
duction of European conceptions of land tenure. The spread 
of these European ideas may be attributed in the first place 
to ignorance of the native system. We find the Supreme 
Courts issuing writs of execution for the seizure of land from 
a judgment debtor, though by native customary law — of 
which the court was bound to take cognisance — ^he had no 
individual property in it. This was much aggravated by the 
tendency to charge the Supreme Court with the duty of 
deciding all land cases to the exclusion of the executive 

large tracts of land which have become derelict and ownerless as the result of 
the slave-raids of the past. They are known as " Jagin Allah " (God's jungle), 
and villages of ex-slaves have been formed on such areas without protest or any 
opposing claim. Even the evidence from Southern Nigeria did not appear to be 
very consistent on this point, for more than one witness referred to vacant lands, 
and one Lagos witness spoke of "No-man's land," which he said was called 
" Tedo." When, however, the right to collect sylvan produce on vacant lands is 
regularly exercised they cannot properly be regarded as waste lands. 

'■ Mr Gower's evidence. Cmd. 5103, 1910, p. 94. Questions 866, 867. 

^ Professor Keith, in the very interesting article already quoted, doubts 
whether there was "any conception of the community as a whole as a land- 
owner." It is impossible, he remarks, to say from the evidence before the 
Northern Nigerian Lands Committee ' ' that there is any clear recognition of a 
legal entity, namely the tribe or village, as owning the land . . . the Hausa customs 
as to the inheritance and division of property on death are quite contrary to 
any such conception." 

The power of expropriation by the head of the tribe is, he argues, a political 
control, which does not necessarily connote tribal ownership, nor does the moral 
control exercised by the family head denote family ownership. He appears to 
consider that the land is individually owned by the head of the family, and is 
divided among the members at his death, "None of the evidence adduced 
shows that the property ascribed to the tribe or community amounts to more 
than the fact that the village has recognised boundaries," within which the land 
required by any member is assigned to him by the head. Compare Baden- 
Powell : " It seems to me quite clear that a sense of individual ' property ' in 
land may arise eoincidently with a sense of a certain right in others to have a 
share of the produce." — 'Indian Village Communities,' p. 131. 


Secondly, the English conception of land tenure was carried 
far and wide throughout the country, by the desire of every 
European trader or miner to obtain a freehold right to the 
land occupied by his residence. And thirdly, especially in 
the large coast towns, by the influence of the Europeanised 
native lawyers. To these may perhaps be added ia some dis- 
tricts the influence of Mohamedans. In the larger cities of 
the coast the conception of individual ownership in land, 
with the right to sell, mortgage, and bequeath it, has thus 
become fully recognised, while in the interior the idea has 
become more and more prevalent.^ 

On the other hand, the conception has no doubt also arisen 
from natural processes, where the density of the population 
in and around the native cities gave to the land an economic 
value for residence or for its produce.^ Even among some 
very primitive tribes the principle of private ownership seems 
to be recognised, for there is evidence of land having been 
sold or rent charged for its use, even where pressure of popu- 
lation was not the cause. ^ 

The conception of individual ownership is promoted by 
the cultivation of permanent crops which take long to mature, 
such as cocoa, rubber, &c.* It is remarkable with what 
tenacity the native miud holds to the idea of private owner- 
ship, or at least of the absolute right to tenure in perpetuity. 
It was difiicult in Lagos to dispose of Crown land to natives 
on any terminable lease, however favourable its terms. 

There are considerable areas in Africa under the domina- 
tion of nomadic tribes — such as the Masai of British East 

1 Mr Dennett states that to alienate land by sale, formerly held to be a crime 
among the Egbas, is now becoming a custom. A deputation of natives urged on 
the Alake the view that land is not inalienable, but the private property of the 
occupier. — 'African Society's Journal,' and 'Morning Post,' 14th March 1910. 

^ There is evidence in the Blue-book (5103) that this stage had been reached in 
various parts of Northern Nigeria — especially in and around the cities of Sokoto, 
Eano, and Zaria. 

' Mr Cardinal tells us that in the Northern Territories of the Gold Coast the 
"Tindana" — the priest of the earth-god — and not the secular chief, owns and 
disposes of the land. The person who first reclaimed a piece of land ' ' becomes 
the owner for all time. ... It is private property, much as we know it in our 
own country," and he derives his title from "the caretaker or agent of the earth- 
god the Tindana." — ' The Natives of the Northern Territories of the Gold Coast.' 

* Speaking of the spread of the cocoa industry in Ashanti, Sir H. Belfield 
writes : " The necessity for creating a form of land tenure in the nature of 
individual ownership is therefore becoming apparent. . . . The people will have 
to admit into their system of land tenure an exclusive right to land, which has 
only been recognised up to the present time in the case of concessions to Euro- 
peans." — Report, para. 51. 


Africa — ^who have established grazing rights for their cattle, 
but otherwise claim no rights of user in the land. The desire 
of the agricultural tribes for land is replaced among these 
nomadic pastorals by the desire for ownership of cattle. In 
other regions — such as Bornu in Nigeria — ^the poverty of the 
soil, and the migratory habits of the people, lead to the 
frequent transfer of villages from one site to another, and 
consequently to a similar absence of any rigid system of land 
tenure. Elsewhere we find wandering tribes of pastorals 
traversing the lands occupied by the settled tribes, who 
accord to them rights of grazing for their cattle — as the 
Fulani and Shuwas in Nigeria. Some of these tribes do possess 
a small amount of cultivated land — ^witness the Ol-moruo of 
the Masai. These are usually cultivated by a helot race of 
serfs, who have no rights in the usufruct. 

It is not easy to focus into a paragraph a general con- 
ception of African land tenure. The general principles would 
seem to be that the assignment of land to the individual is 
entrusted to tribal or famUy authorities, who, however, have 
no claim to ownership in it themselves ; that every individual 
has a right to a share of the use of the land, and holds it in 
perpetuity, subject to the performance of tribal obligations, 
but may not alienate it ; that these principles are held more 
tenaciously by the forest tribes than by those farther north, 
where, in some cases, it is the representative of the earth- 
god who assigns the land, in others an individual chief, while 
pastoral nomads are indifferent to questions of land ownership 
and value grazing rights only. The forest tribes jealously 
maintain that all unoccupied land belongs to some community 
or other, while the northern tribes are less insistent on such 
claims. All aUke recognise the right of the conqueror to dis- 
pose of the land. The inevitable tendency to individual owner- 
ship is meanwhile constantly asserting itself, with the evolu- 
tion of the tribe, and is fostered by pressure of population, 
by foreign example, and by the replacement of annual by 
permanent crops. 

We have seen that in the struggle for existence among the 
aboriginal inhabitants of the African continent, the land — 
upon the possession of which survival depended — feU to the 
conqueror. The earlier Committee, deahng with Northern 
Nigeria, based its conclusions on the assumption that the 
whole of the protectorate was either conquered by British 


arms, or had submitted to a threat of force, and that African 
peoples — whether Moslem or pagan — ^recognised that aU land 
is at the disposal of the conqueror. They accordingly assert 
that " the whole of the land, whether occupied or unoccupied, 
is subject to the control of the Government, and that no title 
to the occupation, use, or enjoyment of any land is valid 
without the consent of the Government." ^ A word of com- 
ment on this general assumption, which as they say forms the 
basis of the report, is desirable. 

It has been laid down as "a principle from which no 
civilised Government would think of departing, that in 
countries acquired by conquest or cession, private property, 
whether of individuals or commimities, existing at the time 
of the cession or conquest, is respected." A large part of 
Northern Nigeria had never been conquered by the Fxilani, 
and was unconquered until it submitted to the British. In 
that portion therefore — even though the people admitted our 
right to deal with their lands and their lives as we should 
see fit — ^we are, as a civilised nation, precluded from assuniing 
such " dominion and control " over the land as would inter- 
fere with the communal or private rights of the conquered 

In the other portion the British conquered the dominant 
race, which was Moslem, and as such recognised the Mahki 
law of Islam.^ But these conquerors, as the Committee re- 

1 Cd. 5102, paragraphs 20, 32, and 72. 

^ See also judgment of Privy Council in the Oluwa land case, July 1921. 

^ A very interesting document, called the Ta'Umu' Radthi (land law) of the 
Sokoto Empire, by Mallam Abdulahi, brother of Dan Fodio, whose Jihad led to 
the Fulani conquest, has recently been discovered. It probably describee what, 
in the view of the writer, the land tenure should be under Moslem rule, rather 
than what it ultimately became, owing to the influence of existing customs. 
Land assigned by the Imam (he says) is private property, and can be given away 
or bequeathed, but the Imam cannot assign ownership of cultivated land cap- 
tured in war, or ceded by treaty, even though held by unbelievers. Such lands 
are Wakf or public lands, and only the user of them can be granted. He can 
assign ownership of deserted lands, but lands still in cultivation by the ancient 
inhabitants " belong to them and to no one else." 

The Maliki law lays down that all conquered lands under cultivation become 
Wakf, and cannot be sold or inherited. They are assigned to Moslems or con- 
verted owners. Neither the ruler nor the occupier has the power to dispose of 
the land itself. Rents are paid to public revenue. Land not under cultivation, 
including cities, may be assigned by the ruler to whom he pleases. A part may 
be set aside as " public lands" for the public good, if there is a clear need of 
them, if their area is small, and if they are absolutely waste. — Guxton's ' Maliki 
Law,' pp. 78, 79, and 254. 

In the Mohamedan Protectorate of Zanzibar, lands are either Wakf or freehold. 
Most of the latter are mortgaged to Indian traders, and the Arab owners are 


cords,^ are believed to have adopted to a large extent the 
pre-existing system of native law, including that of land 
tenure, "which we may assume was based on the general prin- 
ciples I have described as being common to this part of Africa. 
Thus the rents receivable under Koranic law from Wakf 
(cultivated) lands were not demanded, being contrary to native 
custom, and a tribute tax based on the usufruct was sub- 
stituted. The occupiers — ^who professed Islam — ^were con- 
firmed in their holdings. 

There is one other principle in deahng with conquered lands 
to which there can be no dissent. It is that, whatever may be 
the intention of the conqueror in regard to the land, it must 
be declared as soon as possible after the conquest is com- 
pleted. ^ The Government of Northern Nigeria recognised 
this obligation.* Each Emir on appointment or reinstatement, 
received a letter which was publicly read, stating clearly that 
whatever rights in the land had belonged to the Fulani would 
now inuxe to the Government — ^rights which may be said to 
follow as a matter of course on the right to depose or appoint 
chiefs. No attempt at that time was made to define those 
rights, for we had not the necessary information, and it 
requires careful study to discriminate between the rights 
claimed by native conquerors over the inhabitants, as dis- 
tinguished from rights over land. This was followed as soon 
as possible by an Ordinance, under which the Government 
claimed the right to dispose of tmoccupied lands, and lands 
which were the property of conquered or deposed rulers, 
which were called " public lands." For these the Govern- 
ment became trustee. The immediate control of occupied 
lands was not interfered with, and remained in the hands of 
the native rulers, and no rent was demanded from the owners 
or occupiers. 

The Government at the same time claimed ownership of 
certain lands, which had been acquired in perpetuity for 
specified public purposes (administrative sites, &c.), iaclud- 
ing lands leased to non-natives, or obtained on payment 
through the Niger Company. Acquisition by Government 
had been effected by voluntary cession, any occupier being 

in a dependent position. — Report for 1914, Cd. 7622, 1915. The Government 
claims ownership of all waste lands. — Government Notice, ' Gazette,' 15th June 

1 Cd. 5102, paragraphs 3 and 4. ^ Belfield's Report, paragraph 47. 

' Cd. 5102, paragraph 17. 


free to take up land elsewhere (of which there was abund- 
ance), but for the most part the sites occupied were on waste 
lands. It was recognised that compensation in the form of 
alternative land should be made. These were called " Crown 
lands." The assumption of the right to dispose of waste 
land and unoccupied lands was not in conflict with the theory 
that all land has an owner, since, as I have shown, there were 
derelict lands in JSTorthern Nigeria. 

It would perhaps have hardly been worth while to devote 
so much space to the rights (and the limitations to them) 
resulting from conquest, and the course adopted in Mgeria, 
were it not that the question may again come into view in 
regard to the Mandated territories acquired by conquest 
from Germany. The facts seem to have been misunderstood, 
and acting on these two hypotheses — viz., that they were 
dealing with conquered lands, and that the control and dis- 
posal of such lands passes to the conqueror — the Committee 
recorded its conclusion that " the fundamental basis on which 
the law should rest are (1) that the whole of the land is 
subject to Government, and (2) that that control must be 
exercised as far as possible in accordance with native cus- 
toms." ^ The adoption of these priaciples, they add, " seems 
to exclude the EngUsh conception of private ownership of 
land, or of any fixity of annual payment on account of the 
occupation of land." The Committee would impose a " special 
contribution on the occupiers of land, which would rather be 
in the nature of a rent than a tax on agricultural profits," 
and this rent should increase automatically in order to secure 
to the Government the expanding values of land due to the 
increase of wealth.^ " It would, in fact, be the economic 
rent." ^ 

1 Cd. 5102, paragraphs 16, 20, 32. 2 ib;j^ paragraphs 45, 46. 

' Ibid. , paragraph 45. What Sir T. Morison calls the ' ' economic doctrine " is, 
I understand, " the claim of the State to the unearned increase in the rent of 
laud, or a great part of that increase," due to improvements made by the State 
or by the community, as apart from those made by the occupier. " Since land is 
the free gift of nature . . . the economic doctrine would seem to require that all 
lands should become the property of the State." — (Morison, ' Industrial Organiza- 
tion of an Indian Village,' p. 19.) See also Whittaker, 'Ownership, Tenure, and 
Taxation of Land,' p. xxi. 

Sir P. Girouard (my successor, and at that time Governor of Northern 
Nigeria) declared himself whole-heartedly in accord with the principles laid 
down by the Committee, which he construed as a declaration of the nationalisa- 
tion of the land (Cd. 5102, p. xxvii.) In printed instructions to his staflE he 
subsequently explained that land is "nationalised" when the economic rent 


The Committee suggest that if it is impracticable to charge 
this rent by legislative methods, it should be imposed " ad- 
ministratively " — a course which the Attorney-General re- 
ported as contrary to the native revenue ordinance.^ The 
Conmiittee, however, admits that " an economic rent has not 
yet emerged, and forms no part of the indigenous system of 
taxation." * Its imposition would therefore be contrary to 
native customary law, and would thus violate one of the 
" fundamental bases." It had never been introduced by the 
Moslem conquerors, and, as we have seen, when an attempt 
was made to apportion the general tax in relation to the 
land in occupation, the result was that about half the valu- 
able rice land in Sokoto went out of cultivation. The existing 
tax on the produce of land is in accordance with native law, 
but to exact a rental is to create " the new and strange 
idea of property in the land itseU " — which the Committee 
condemns, — ^for the native not unnaturally considers that the 
person who claims the right to receive rentals is the owner 
of the land, and Government becomes the owner and not the 
trustee. Colour was lent to this view by the opinion of the 
Committee that any distinction between " Crown lands," 
in which the Government claimed ownership by purchase, &c., 
and the rest of the land over which it claimed control, was 
" unnecessary and may be misleading," and " superfluous." ^ 
The Ordinance, which was drafted in England in accord- 
is paid to the State, and not to an individual. " Proprietary rights will be 
created whenever an individual pays for the use of land to another individual, and 
not to the State. " " There is therefore a necessity of separating the agriculturist 
and his land-revenue from taxes on all other walks in life. " " Where economic 
rent has emerged it should be added to the amount assessed as an income tax." 
Lord Elgin defined the share of Government " in the unearned increment in the 
value of land " as being " that portion of its value which is due to the growth 
around it of an organised economic and political system." — Cd. 4117/1908, p. 30. 
These extracts appear to embody the theory of ' ' Economic Rent. " 

The school of political economists who hold the view that the State alone 
should have any rights in land, appear to be ready to admit the indefeasible title 
conferred by conquest and spoliation, while denying the rights acquired by user, 
improvement and reclamation, or by purchase as the result of success in other 
forms of industry. 

1 Report, Cd. 5102, paragraphs 28, 29. 

^ Ibid. , paragraph 46. Sir P. Girouard observes that " to attempt to assess 
an economic rent for lands that have not yet acquired a market value is impos- 
sible. This course would not be practicable in the case of natives, and would be 
opposed to their native law and custom in the Mohamedan States at any rate." 
"The native system is based on profits made out of the land." — Ibid., p. xxix. 
and 48. 

' Ibid. , paragraphs 23 and 27. 


ance with the Committee's recommendations, evoked some 
criticism. The people of Southern Nigeria and the Gold 
Coast, as I said in the last chapter, were much perturbed at 
the inference in the terms of reference of the second Com- 
mittee lest it should be applied to them, and they organised 
deputations to England to protest. It is worth while, there- 
fore, to recapitulate briefly the grounds of this criticism and 

The law enacted that no title to occupation should be 
valid without the Governor's consent, and he was precluded 
from granting a right of occupancy except on rental, revisable 
septennially. This gave rise to the criticism that to turn 
an occupier who under native law holds his land rent-free in 
perpetuity " into a rent-paying, short-term lessee on a pre- 
carious tenure is bluntly confiscation," and both inexpedient 
and unjust.^ Since, however, it was obviously impossible 
to issue certificates to millions of native occupiers, with no 
adequate staff or survey, the Colonial Office explained that 
native holders might continue to be dealt with by their 
rulers, acting in theory as delegates of the Governor. In the 
result, therefore, no certiflcates (without which rent is not 
chargeable) were issued, and the law remained a dead letter 
so far as native occupiers are concerned. They were im- 
aware that it had declared their titles to be invalid, unless 
granted under a certificate by the Governor. 

The native apprehension in the coast colonies was centred 
on the question of ownership. They could not understand 
how the lands could be described as " native lands," of which 
the Governor was trustee, if no occupier had a valid title 
without his consent, or that of his delegate, for a limited 
time, on a rental. Ownership they considered was transferred 
to Government by such an assertion. The Crown could no 
doubt claim ownership by right of conquest — as appears from 
the judgment of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council 
in the Ehodesian Lands case (see pp. 343-4) — ^in respect of ter- 
ritory actually conquered, but since the preamble of the 
Ordinance appeared to repudiate this claim, and recited that 
its object was to assure to the natives their customary rights 
in the land, and since the terms of reference suggested similar 
legislation in the south, the people there feared lest the Govern- 
ment should claim the same powers in respect of their lands. 

1 Sir W. Geary, ' African Society Journal,' April 1913, p. 245. 


The Ordinance has been amended in some respects, and in 
practice at any rate no interference with native occupation 
or title, or the right of the chiefs to dispose of the land to 
persons under their rule, and no attempt to impose a rent, 
has been made. An occupier if expropriated (unless for fault) 
is compensated. On the other hand, the original claim of 
Government to dispose of waste lands has been maintained, 
and the alienation of land by the chiefs to non-natives has 
been prevented. This right I imagine woidd not be disputed 
by the advocates of native rights. The native of the Gold 
Coast or Southern Nigeria would however assert, first, that 
his land was not conquered territory, and secondly, that 
there were no waste lands. The Aborigines' Protection 
Society contends that " where lands are beneficially occupied 
by natives they should not be dispossessed." ^ " We want," 
says Colonel Wedgwood, " an independent people on their 
own land, whether held individually or communally." * Up 
to the time when I left Northern Nigeria in 1906, the ques- 
tion of land tenure was not so pressing as other urgent matters, 
and I had myself been inclined to favour a land-rent, but I 
speedily changed my opinion, on grounds both of equity and 
expediency, when on my return to Nigeria in 1912 I made a 
closer study of the subject. 

The object in view — ^namely, that the system of taxation 
shall be such that " the Government revenues will partake 
automatically in any increase in the general wealth " ' — is 
equally ensured by the income tax described in the last 
chapter, in a manner, as it appears to me,, the most effective 
possible, without violating one of the most fundamental of 
native prejudices. For the native pays in proportion to his 
wealth, whether it arises from the expanding values of land 
or otherwise. The cardinal principles of native law are not 
infringed, for the occupiers' tenure is a holding in perpetuity, 
subject to the payment of a portion of the usufruct, but not 
of rent for the land itself. The vahdity of his right is not 
dependent on the issue of a licence to occupy. On the other 
hand, the right of the ruler to revoke it for good cause, or to 
appropriate it if need be in exchange for land elsewhere, is 
not questioned. 

1 Sir S. Olivier, May 1920. 

2 Debate on Colonial Office vote, August 1919. 
^ Report, loc. cit,, paragraph 45. 


It is inevitable that the examination of the land law of 
Northern Nigeria, which has been claimed by some as a model 
ordinance, should be somewhat technical and detailed. I 
make no apology, therefore, for a brief summary of the points 
of criticism. The Committee assumed that the whole of the 
lands of Northern Nigeria were conquered lands, and appa- 
rently ignoring rights which conquest does not annul, enacted 
that no title (including those of existing occupiers) was valid 
without the consent of the Governor, whose consent was to 
be granted in the form of a " certificate of occupation," 
which imposed a rent, revisable septennially. This naturally 
gave rise to fears in Southern Nigeria that the Government 
claimed ownership of aU lands. Subsequent alteration of the 
law and practice has maintained the right of native occupiers 
to the lands they occupy, and the right of native rulers to 
assign lands to natives in their jurisdiction, without any 
certificate of occupation. Compensation for eviction by 
Government (save for " good cause ") is given, and not 
merely for unexhausted improvements. No land-rent is 
demanded, as being contrary to native custom. 

As land acquires an economic value, there is no doubt a 
natural tendency towards its accumulation in the hands of 
the wealthier classes, with the consequent creation of a land- 
less peasantry. It has been the beneficent policy of British 
Governments in India and other dependencies to counteract 
this tendency to the best of their power, and to encourage 
the class of peasant proprietors. In conquered countries, 
where Government has claimed the control of the land, it 
would seem that that control cannot be better justified, or 
exerted with greater benefit to the people, than by imposing 
such restrictions on the transfer of lands as may preserve 
an ignorant peasantry from the consequences of its own 
improvidence. Mr Ehodes shared this view, and was an 
ardent believer in the efficacy of individual small holdings 
as an aid to self-respect. I shall discuss his scheme in the 
next chapter. 

The restriction on alienation matters Uttle, I think, to 
the African cultivator, provided he enjoys fixity of tenure 
in perpetuity. This indeed is " ownership " in the native 
sense of the term. I believe that there is nothing which 
can so effectively tend to eradicate the servile habit of mind 
in a people who have for generations been accustomed to 


regard themselves as slaves or serfs, as the sense of respon- 
sibility of the free occupier of the land. Emancipation of 
the body is a lesser benefit than emancipation of the spirit. 
It is not enough to set a man free from his legal status as a 
slave unless he learns his responsibilities as a citizen. That 
has been our aim in Mgeria.^ 

The labourer who works on land which is not his own, 
whether as the serf, or even as the paid servant of an estate 
owner, or as a imit in a communal estate, has little interest 
in its improvement during, and none beyond his own life- 
time. And so we find in Africa, " the oldest of the con- 
tinents," no permanent irrigation works, such as those which 
terrace every hillside in Afghanistan, India, and China.^ 
The African plants few trees, and is careless of the produc- 
tivity of the soil. Individual proprietorship is no doubt 
inimical to the supply of wage labour for large estates, but 
it makes for individual progress, thrift, and character. It 
is the strongest inducement to good farming, and politically 
an asset to the Government, to which the peasant owes the 
security of his holding. The French verdict is the same. 
" The system of individual ownership is incontestably the 
one which is most favourable to production." ^ 

A policy of encouraging small peasant proprietors is not 
inconsistent with the recognition of the value of a limited 
number of larger estates employing paid labour. These, if 
held by local natives, as is still the case in the Sokoto and 
Yola provinces of Nigeria, add to the prestige and influence 
of the ruling classes, and promote their desire for peaceful 
progress, since they have " a stake in the country," and 
they bring these classes into closer touch with the peasantry. 
Paid labour is, however, difficult to procure as long as there 
is abundant land for the asking. (See chapter on labour.) 

Plantations of limited area, owned by Europeans, are use- 
ful as object-lessons in improved methods. On the other 

1 A Senior Resident writes : " At the present time (1917) the whole Hausa 
country is covered with holdings ranging from one to four acres, cultivated by 
one man and his children and servants or slaves. That man may be an Emir, a 
Hausa, or a Fulani." Very many others bear similar witness to the result of 
British policy. "The country is covered with small holders — there are no 
estates now." 

2 In West Africa water is led on to small plots where intensive cultivation 
is practised, but there is no extensive system. In East Africa irrigation is 
practised to a small extent. See note 2, p. .518. 

» Colonial Budget Report, 1910, No. 375, p. 91. 


hand, the native land speculator, who is a trader or money- 
lender, and acquires an estate of which he is an absentee 
landlord, is an evil to the country. The late Mr Farquharson 
(of the Nigerian Agricultural Department) denounced him as 
" a land-hog, whose aim it was to make rapid profits by 
sweating native labour, and by grievous exploitation of the 
soU, ' ' leaving the land exhausted and useless. Mr Farquharson 
looked forward to the time when the alien native landholder 
should be compelled, like the small crofter in Scotland, to 
apply a certain minimum of tillage and manure to his holding. 

The first and most important step to preserve the peasant 
proprietor is the prohibition of the sale or transfer of land, 
without the consent of the Governor, to any person, European 
or other, who is not subject to the local native jurisdiction. 
The sale of permanent improvements appurtenant to the 
land, and iavolving a transfer of the user — ^which is for prac- 
tical purposes indisttaguishable from a transfer of the land 
itself — ^would have the same effect in converting the free 
peasant proprietor into a wage-earner on the estate of another. 
Wherever possible, it should, I think, be the duty of Govern- 
ment to withhold from the native chiefs the power of allow- 
ing such sales to persons not subject to their jurisdiction, 
and to enact that mortgages and sales of permanent improve- 
ments to such persons should have no legal recognition. The 
recovery of advances on crops would be limited to the result 
of the harvest, and no claim to the trees or to the land would 
be recognised. Eecovery of debt should, moreover, be re- 
stricted, so as to leave sufficient for the bare necessities of 
life and seed for the comtug year. I shall presently discuss 
the question further in cases where Government cannot exert 
these restrictions. 

In brief, while peasant occupation is the best as a general 
rule, the ownership, even in regions where white settlement 
is not possible, of estates of limited area by Europeans for 
the cultivation of new or improved products is most valuable, 
but estates owned by absentee native landlords engaged in 
trade or usury is inimical to the interests and productivity 
of the country. 

Transfers of land between natives subject to the local 
native jurisdiction can best be controlled by the native 
authority, which is the natural guardian of native custom, 
under the watchful scrutiny of the Eesident. In Northern 


Nigeria the regulations are that there is no restriction on sale, 
transfer, or bequest to a blood relation. The consent of the 
district headman is necessary for transfer to a non-related 
native of the same district, and the additional approval of 
the Eesident is required for transfer to a native non-resident 
in the district. An appeal is allowed, and transfers must be 
registered by the native court. In order to add to the 
security of the peasant holder, all transfers should be so 
registered ; and as native administrations become more efiBL- 
cient, and a rough survey by native ofilcials becomes possible, 
the head chief should be encouraged to keep a Domesday 
Book with a record of all holdings. 

The right of the State to acquire land for necessary public 
purposes — e.g., administrative sites, railways, &c. — ^is recog- 
nised by all Governments. In conquered countries where 
Government controls the land — ^viz., acts as trustee for its 
use — ^it seems reasonable that this power should include the 
acquisition and disposal of all land over which the Govern- 
ment considers it necessary iu the interests of the people 
that it should exercise direct control — ^namely, over aU lands 
occupied by persons not subject to the jurisdiction of the 
native rulers. The Government would assume the responsi- 
bility of deciding whether, and to what extent, an applica- 
tion for land by an aUen, engaged in the development of 
the country or in mission work, was reasonable and justified 
iu the public interest. In any important decision of this 
nature the Secretary of State exercises a controlling decision. 

The land required might, for iastance, have been used for 
generations by a family for low-grade cultivation or as grazing 
land, and have become valuable because of its proximity to 
a railway station built at the cost of public funds. Its appro- 
priation by Government, with a view to securing a good 
rental from a non-native — ^to be applied in diminution of 
taxation or for development works — ^is imdoubtedly in the 
general interest of the natives. In the case cited the native 
occupier would, under the Northern Mgeria Lands Com- 
mittee's proposals, receive no compensation, siace there were 
no improvements ; but it seems equitable that he should be 
compensated for disturbance, and provided with equivalent 
land elsewhere. 

Thus in regions where the Government exercises control 
over the land, it would become the landlord of all aliens. 


and the conception of landlord and tenant would not be 
prematurely introduced into the native system of land tenure. 
Moreover, where land is rapidly increasing in value, and it 
is considered advisable to institute periodical revisions of 
rent, these can best be fixed by Government, and should 
accrue to the State, to whose action the increasing value 
is generally due. 

The maximum acreage for the various types of lease — 
residential, agricultural, grazing, &o. — are laid down by 
ordinance or regulation, and wiU be discussed in the next 
chapter. No freehold grants are made. Leases to Europeans 
inside a native city are to be deprecated, and the grant of 
large blocks of land to " concessionaires," unless uninhabited, 
is altogether opposed to the principle of trusteeship. The 
peasantry on their part, by the advent of the railway and the 
traders who follow it (and require sites), obtain prices hitherto 
undreamt of for their produce, and they can buy European 
goods at cheap rates. ^ They derive a direct advantage, 
while the Government, by leasing sites to traders, puts the 
land to its most remunerative use, and adds to the funds 
which make further railway extension possible. 

Before passing to the consideration of the conditions apply- 
ing to land in countries in which the Government does not 
claim the rights of conquest, a few remarks regarding the 
native method of using the land will, I think, not be out of 
place. The general characteristics of the low-lying equatorial 
zone (though there are curious exceptions) are heavy rainfall, 
luxuriant vegetation (including belts of forest), a soil enriched 
by decayed vegetable matter, and a climate unsuited to 
live-stock. North of this zone the rainfall is often very 
meagre, the soU light and devoid of humus. Annual fires 
sweep over the prairie grass ia the dry season, and cattle 
and other live-stock are plentiful. 

Where the density of the population had limited the land 
available for each cultivator, the agriculturist in the dry 
zone has learnt that it can be rendered more productive by 
manure from his live-stock ; but even with this resource he 
must leave a certain portion fallow, in order that the exhausted 
soil may recover. In the equatorial zone the cultivator finds 
that the soU, at first most productive, rapidly deteriorates, 

1 When the railway reached Kano (in Nigeria) ground nuta were sold at 
£3, 10a. a ton. They later fetched £40 to £45. 


and he too has recourse to the expedient of leaving it fallow 
for varying periods. But lying close to hand are areas of 
virgin soil covered with forest. This he reclaims by ring- 
barking the trees — which remain like gaunt skeletons — and 
clearing and burning the undergrowth on the spot. Thus 
each year the valuable evergreen forest disappears, never to 
reappear, and is replaced by secondary deciduous forest, and 
if the process is repeated the forest is eventually replaced 
by grass, liable to frequent fires. Forests serve as a reservoir 
which feeds the head- waters of streams, and with their destruc- 
tion the torrential rains carry away the surface soil, and 
deposit sand and debris on the plains, thus rendering them 
unfit for cultivation, while the rivers cease to be navigable. 
The rainfall decreases.^ 

Mr Thompson, Director of Forests in Mgeria, and a very 
high authority, estimates that by this process — ^known as 
" shifting cultivation " — ^the acreage of land taken up for 
cultivation is from five to nine times in excess of the require- 
ments of the cultivator under a less wasteful system. Shift- 
ing cultivation, he says, is not tolerated in any but the wildest 
and most uncivilised parts of the world, and even there it is 
restricted. In India it is not recognised as a right. The 
checks on the increase of population under savage conditions 
— war, pestilence, and famine — are alone responsible for pre- 
serving such forests as remain in large areas of tropical 

The essential necessity of conserving the forest wealth of 
the country compels the iatroduction of better methods, but 
these are not learnt in a day. Where Government controls 
the land, it may be argued that the imposition of rentals 
would operate to restrict the wasteful use of land. But 
restriction can be equally well secured and forests protected 
by the agency of the native rulers, and by the operation of 
the tax levied on the produce of the land if cultivated to an 
average standard, without incurring the additional opposi- 
tion which land rentals would cause. The problem as it 
affects uncontrolled lands belongs to a later paragraph. 

The question of the assignment to the village of its proper 
proportion of uncultivated land — ^for grazing, fuel, &c. — is 
one which in many localities requires constant supervision, 

' See Mr Thompson's report on Forest questions in the Gold Coast, Cd. 4993, 
1908, and pp. 526-9 infra. 


owing to the migratory habits of the people, and the rapid 
increase or decrease in the population of the villages. This 
is a matter for adjustment by the niUng chief, subject to the 
supervision of the executive staff. The larger question of 
the augmentation of the area held by a tribe, or by an ad- 
vanced community, whose increasing population has caused 
acute land hunger, while perhaps a neighbouring tribe has 
so decreased in nimibers that its lands are in excess of its 
needs, is one for the Government to deal with. Several such 
cases have occurred in my own experience. K the facts are 
established a transfer of land must be made, but in my 
opinion, in no case — ^whether the country is conquered territory 
or not — should a rental be demanded from the community 
which receives the additional land. In days not distant it 
would have seized the land, and would probably have exter- 
minated its owners as well. The peaceful adjustment of such 
economic claims, when proved to be well founded, is the 
function of the suzerain Government. 

The conclusions which it seems reasonable to deduce from 
these considerations may be briefly summarised. When a 
European Power succeeds to the domination hitherto wielded 
by a native conquering race, the control of the land, in so 
far as it was exercised by the latter, passes, if publicly claimed, 
to the new suzerain, and should be exercised in accordance 
with native law and custom. If the dominion was not vested 
in a conquering race, the controlling Power should interfere 
still less with customary law. Private and communal rights 
must be respected. 

In practice, therefore, the Government should not intervene 
between the native rulers and the people under their juris- 
diction as to the disposal of lands or the tenure upon which 
they are held, except to advise, and to maintain justice. 
Land rents should not be charged to natives, since Govern- 
ment is the trustee for and not the owner of the land, and 
rentals are opposed to native law. But the Government 
should prohibit the transfer of lands to aliens, and reserve 
to itself the right to grant leases to them, and to appropriate 
the rentals to public revenue, paying full compensation. The 
Goverimient may also develop, for the public good, lands 
which are not in beneficial occupation, and not likely to be 
required for such purpose. Lands which are beneficially 
occupied may be appropriated for any public purpose, or for 


lease to aliens, if justifled for the encouragement of trade or 
mining, and in the interests of the pubUc revenue. Such 
alienated land should be strictly limited in extent, and sub- 
ject to provisos (which wiU be described in the next chapter) 
to ensure its proper use and development. In such cases 
the occupier must be fully compensated. Any such expro- 
priation should be efEected through the native administration, 
and imder the immediate authority of the native ruler. 

The exercise by the native authority of his control of the 
land should be supervised and guided, equally with his other 
executive acts, by the British staff, and there should be an 
appeal to the Resident. The guidance of the British staff 
should be directed towards the encouragement of small hold- 
ings, and their preservation against absorption in large estates, 
or alienation for debt ; to the utilisation of the land to the 
best advantage by permanent improvements ; and to the 
curtailing of shifting cultivation. It is their duty to see 
that the revocation of any holder's right of occupation is 
justified by native law, and they report to the Governor 
whether any application for land by a non-native can be 
granted without injury to the rights of the natives. 

When the pressure of population in any district has resulted 
in enhancing the value of land, it is expedient that holdings 
should be roughly surveyed by natives trained, paid, and 
controlled by the native administration, and records kept 
by it. 

These principles appear to me to be in accord with the 
system of ruHng through the native chiefs on the one hand, 
and with those general bases of taxation which are not re- 
pugnant to native custom on the other hand. A system of 
land rentals, leases, and licences to native occupiers, and of 
the expropriation of holders without compensation except for 
their own improvements, appears to me not only incompatible 
with the principle of ruling through the chiefs, and the system 
of taxation recognised by the people, but also to violate the 
cardinal tenets of native customary law. 

It seems preferable that the natural evolution of land 
tenure should not be arbitrarily interfered with, either on 
the one hand by introducing foreign principles and theories 
not understood by the people, or, on the other hand, by 
stereotyping by legislation primitive systems which are in 
a transitional state. Each advance should be duly sanctioned 


by native law and custom, and prompted by the necessities 
of changing circumstances. Such a policy of patient progress 
is best adapted to the country. Tribal tenure at one end of 
the scale has its defects, in that it provides no check on the 
wasteful use of land, by allowiug large areas to Lie fallow, 
while valuable forests are destroyed in the search for virgin 
soil, and in that it checks individual enterprise and industryg 
Unrestricted freehold tenure at the opposite extreme has its 
failing, in that there is no check on the mortgage or sale of 
his land by the peasant holder who is likely to become a 
tenant or serf on the lands he once owned. The owner of 
freehold land, moreover, obtains without any effort on his 
part, any increase in the value of the land due to the ex- 
penditure of public funds, or the industry of the community. 
It is reasonable and just that the community as a whole — 
viz., the State — should participate in these iucreased values 
by periodical revision of rentals, or preferably by a graduated 
iacome tax. 




Countries in whicli rights of conquest have not been claimed — Ignorance 
of native law — Conditions in the Gold Coast — Definition of areas 
under English law — The law applicable to remaining lands — Transfers 
of land to non-natives — The executive, not the judiciary, should 
deal with land cases — Duties of Government as trustee — Disposal of 
rents of tribal lands —Government as landlord of aliens in im- 
conquered countries — Need for fixity of tenure — Land held by 
"strangers" — Modification of native law — Grants relating to the 
produce of the land — Forest licences and leases — Communal planta- 
tions — Leases of Crown lands to natives — Difierences in meaning of 
terms — The problem in Eastern Africa — Acquisition of land by, and 
status of British Indians — The Indian case — Obligations to native 
races — The case of the British settler — Suggestions — Native reserves 
— Divergent views as to policy — The interpenetration policy — 
Management of reserves — The Glen Grey Act— Mr Rhodes' views — 
Land tenure in East Africa — Conditions for settlers in Kenya — 
Uganda — Nyasaland — Summary of conditions in East Africa — 
Population in relation to land areas — Conclusions. 

There remains to discuss the attitude of Government towards 
the land in those territories where rights of conquest cannot 
be claimed, or where the claim, though valid, was not set 
up, and no declaration of policy was made. The latter seems 
to have been the case after the conquests of Ashanti ^ and 
Benin — ^the only two cases in West Africa (apart from Northern 
Mgeria) in which native dynasties were overthrown ; " and 

^ " In Ashanti . . . had the lands of the country been proclaimed at the time 
of conquest to be the property of the Crown, they would unquestionably have so 
vested. . . . The claim to ownership was waived, and cannot now be asserted. " 
— Belfield Report, paragraph 47. The Chief Commissioner is empowered to 
take any lands required by Government, but only on payment of compensation 
for improvements and disturbance. In the "Northern Territories" of the 
Gold Coast the control of all lands by Government appears to be as absolute as 
in Northern Nigeria. — (Cardinal, loo. cit). 

^ In Benin, consequent on the massacre of 1896, the Oba was deported and 
Government assumed direct control. A few Crown leases were then issued, thus 
showing that the Government of the day had adopted the view that Benin lands 


the same may be said as regards the various military expedi- 
tions, such as that arising from the " hut-tax rebellion " in 
Sierra Leone, the Jebu, and the Aro expeditions in Southern 
Mgeria, and the many minor operations brought about by 
murders and outrages, which the Government was compelled 
to suppress by force of arms. In these, and in other cases in 
which tribes submitted to a threat of force, no definite claim 
to control the land was asserted. If there be any districts 
in which a Government has by usage, sufferance, or otherwise 
established a claim to control the land, or special privileges 
in regard to the acquisition of land, its claim should be 
publicly notified. 

The absence of any definite and consistent policy in regard 
to land in these dependencies seems to have arisen from 
the failure to investigate the system of native tenure. The 
legislatures, though desirous of giving due weight to native 
custom, were not apparently familiar with it, and we find 
that the various Ordinances relating to land are couched in 
terms often quite inapplicable to native tenure, and the 
leases and other instruments are often drawn on an EngUsh 
model. The Chief Justices of the Supreme Courts have in 
many judgments where particular issues of importance had 
to be decided, shown much knowledge of the principles of 
native land law — of which they were bound to take cognisance 
— ^but as I have described in speaking of individual tenure, 
the issues have become confused by the permeation of Eng- 
lish conceptions of land tenure among the natives themselves, 
so that it was often difficult to decide to what degree these 
conceptions had influenced the grantors, and further difficulty 
arose from the terms of the law which the judges had to 

Thus during Mr Chamberlain's tenure of office, when the 
first attempts to deal comprehensively with this question 
of land tenure in the Crown colonies appear to have been 
made, the Government of the Gold Coast introduced (in 

(except of course those held in private ownership) had by right of conquest 
become Crown lands. The restoration of the Oba in 1916 was made conditional 
on the recognition of Government control over the land. In 1917 an agree- 
ment was substituted, under which the Oba was left free to deal with the 
land occupied by Benis, while rentals received for land leased to aliens and 
"strangers" might, at the discretion of the Governor, be shared between the 
protectorate and the native treasuries. Only one area, already leased as Crown 
laud, was retained as such. 


1897) a Bill based on individiial ownership. It " aimed at 
encouraging the native to settle permanently on cultivated 
land by assuring to him the right of proprietorship therein, 
if occupation is continuous. ... He may by occupation 
secure a good title against any chief or any one else . . . 
though forfeiture results from abandonment ; . . . a perma- 
nent, hereditable, transferable right of proprietorship which 
the Supreme Court will enforce." ^ The Bill was opposed on 
the ground that it vested in the Crown powers over the land 
which belonged to communities or individuals, and it was 
not pressed. The alienation for ninety-nine years of tribal 
lands, by chiefs and families, to Europeans for money pay- 
ments, which had grown to be a scandal,'^ continued to be 
recognised by the courts. 

The object of the Gold Coast Ordinance as finally passed 
in 1900 was to induce the vendors to bring the transaction 
before the Court, that it might see that it was fair, and that 
the rights of the natives to cultivation, &c., were protected. 
It left the chiefs free to make their own bargains with the 
purchasers, though the Court had power to modify the terms. 
I do not propose to discuss this much-debated measure, which 
was the subject of an exhaustive inquiry by Sir H. Belfield. 
But it raises many important issues which are pertinent to 
the subject under discussion. Sale of tribal lands had also 
taken place in the Lagos hinterland, though not to the same 

To the native mind, uninfluenced by foreign ideas, land 
is an unsaleable thing. " We have power to dispose of the 
land ; we cannot sell the land ; no chief can sell the land," 
said a Lagos chief in evidence before the Supreme Court. ^ 
If an alien requires land, whether he be a native stranger 
who desires to cidtivate, or a European who desires to trade 
or mine, the question to the native mind would be, whether 
or not the stranger's presence is desirable and to the benefit 
of the community. If it is, he is given land rent-free. He 

J Cd. 5103, p. 23. 

" Belfield Report, paragraph 35. It has been freely stated that the chiefs 
had alienated an area in excess of the total area of the Colony — the inference 
being that the whole was alienated, and many concessions overlapped. Sir H. 
Belfield states that the total alienated was 899 sq. miles out of 24,300. There 
were some 3000 sq. miles additional "under notice," but in the great majority 
of cases no further action was contemplated (paragraphs 39-40). 

' Cd. 5103, p. 32. 



may or may not give a part of his profits or produce in return 
for the favour conferred upon him. If he does, it has no 
connection with the land, and is not in proportion to its area. 
Similarly if the Government takes land for a recognised public 
purpose, no payment would be demanded, but any person 
dispossessed would obtain land elsewhere through the chiefs. 

In all these dependencies, however, English law is largely 
if not exclusively applied iq the big coast cities, and to a 
varying degree beyond them. Ko doubt European conces- 
sionaires, holding land devised to them in deeds drawn by 
native barristers in English legal terms, understand that they 
hold title under English law. Moslems and other native aliens 
probably have their own ideas as to the tenure of their hold- 
ings. And it seems clear that the grantors themselves have 
only the vaguest conceptions as to the conditions of the 
grants. How the courts — Abound by Ordinance to take cog- 
nisance of native custom — can in these circumstances deter- 
mine suits is to the layman a mystery. 

The first and most urgent step woidd seem, therefore, to 
be the determination by Ordinance of the area ia which 
EngUsh land law applies. This might be limited in the first 
instance to the iirban and suburban districts on the coast, 
and fixed by the legislative councils of the respective colonies, 
to be extended if need be by resolution of the council. Within 
that area aU land titles would, of course, be registered. 

Outside these districts it would seem to be desirable to 
enforce registration (within a prescribed period) of aU hold- 
ings not already registered, in which individual ownership is 
claimed, whether by aliens or by natives. The remainder of 
the land should be declared to be subject to native tribal 
tenure and (except to Government for public purposes) alien- 
able only in accordance with the principles of native law — 
e.g., the freehold could not be granted. If at any time it were 
desired to extend the application of English law to any trans- 
fer of land in such areas, the consent of the Governor would 
be required, in order to ensure that the grantor fully under- 
stood the transaction. The conditions applicable to individual 
ownership might be laid down by Ordinance in simple lan- 
guage — viz., that the land can be sold or taken in execution, 
&c. — with a correspondingly simple form of lease. A similar 
form for tribal land alienated on leasehold might be added.^ 

' See the forms suggested by Sir H. Belfield, Report, paragraph 103. 


This procedure would not arrest natural evolution, or per- 
petuate by legislation a system which is in course of develop- 
ment, but it would ensure that native tenure could only be 
modified to accord with changing circumstances, after due 
consideration, and with the assent of the Government. It 
would in no way interfere with the right of native owners 
(subject to the conditions I am about to suggest) to dispose 
of their lands, and to make their own bargains, and if so 
desired, to include special terms in the lease.^ It would 
ensure to the grantee the clean title he desires, and a clear 
understanding of the law to which it is subject. It would, 
I presume, considerably simplify the work of the courts. 

Although in territories where no claim to the control of 
the land has been set up. Government thus explicitly recog- 
nises the right of the native owners to dispose of their lands 
as they like ; no interference with native rights or customs 
can be alleged if Government asserts its unquestioned juris- 
diction over non-natives, and directs that they must obtain 
its consent before acquiring land from a native, and its final 
approval of the lease. It would seem desirable, in the interests 
alike of the grantors and of the grantees, that this rule should 
be enforced, and that registration should be obligatory within 
a prescribed period. A notification to this efEect was issued 
by the Gold Coast Goverimaent on 10th October 1895, and 
appeared in the ' London Gazette ' and five leading London 
papers.^ It has also been the law in Lagos since 1908, and 
in Southern Mgeria since 1900. At the present time in 
Mgeria an alien may be called upon by the court to prove 
that he is in legal occupation, and may be evicted and fined 
if he fails to do so. Not may he occupy land with the con- 
sent of the native owner without acquiring it. 

The Governor, before giving his consent, would see that 
the lease was not in any way manifestly opposed to native 
interests, and he could insert a clause making the possession 
of the land dependent on its efficient development. 

If a native cultivator sells or mortgages his permanent 

' The term " concession " is one of evil association. All grants should be 
in the form of leases not exceeding ninety-nine years. 

^ It read as follows : " No document hereafter made, purporting to grant or 
convey any rights over or interest in land, forests, or minerals, or monopoly 
in economic products, save and except the right to occupy building land for the 
erection of a native house, vrill be recognised in any way by the Government, 
unless it shall bear the signature of the Qovemor, &c." 


improvements — e.g., a plantation of cocoa-trees — to an alien 
(which for practical purposes involves the transfer of the 
land), the transaction should, as I have said, require the 
assent of the Governor equally with a sale of the land, and 
a definite period for the duration of the transaction shoidd 
be fixed. If the purchaser or mortgager has the sole use of 
the land, the right of the native ruler to demand a ground 
rent should be recognised. 

Having established this principle, the Government would 
be able to assist the native chiefs in their dealings with 
Europeans, by the advice of the District Officer. He would 
see that there was no overlapping of leases, that the terms 
proposed were understood, and that the bargain was equit- 
able to the native owners. On the other hand, the Govern- 
ment would be able to transfer to the executive the onus of 
protecting the rights of the people against any improper 
transactions by the chiefs or others in regard to land. 

This task is by the Gold Coast Concessions Ordinance 
thrown upon the judiciary. Sir H. Belfleld writes in this 
connection : " It is undesirable that the work should be 
entrusted to the judges, because they do not possess any 
first-hand knowledge of the land with which they are dealing, 
and because their decisions are not open to revision except ia 
contested cases. I believe the work can be performed more 
efficiently, more expeditiously, and more economically if 
entrusted to executive officers." ^ 

Disputes regarding land boundaries, not only of lands sold 
or leased, but the ever-recurring inter-tribal quarrels regarding 
land, can be dealt with more effectively by inquiry on the 
spot by the District Officer than by the courts, and costly 
litigation avoided. Boundaries once decided should be re- 
corded by the native courts. In the southern provinces of 
Nigeria these principles have long been in force, and recent 
legislation has placed further restrictions on the intervention 
of the Supreme Court in land cases. They are strongly advo- 
cated by Sir H. Belfield, who describes the procedure at 
great length.^ 

' Report, paragraph 86. See also paragraphs 67, 68, and 85. 

^ Report, paragraphs 84-106, &g. Application should, in the first instance, be 
made to the District Officer, who makes all inquiries and advises the natives in 
their interest. When the lease has received the Governor's approval, conditional 
occupation may be allowed, pending survey. In order to avoid any conflict as to 
title, the proposed grant should be notified in the ' Gazette.' Registration may 
then be accepted as a guarantee of title. 


If recourse to the courts is necessary the case is heard in 
the Provincial Court (in which legal practitioners are not 
heard). Its judgments are reviewed and confirmed by the 
Chief Justice, acting as the delegate of the head of the execu- 
tive — ^the Governor — and not iu his judicial capacity. There 
are also other safeguards, for the Chief Justice can order a 
transfer to the Supreme Court, either on the application of 
the parties or of his own motion, and there is an appeal 
if the claim, debt, damage, or default exceeds £50 in 

The importance of excluding native lawyers in these cases 
cannot be over-estimated, for judges of the Supreme Court 
of long experience have stated that by the action of these 
native lawyers ignorant chiefs are involved in costly and 
needless litigation, and often plunged into debt.^ 

It is the first duty of a Government to watch over the in- 
terests of the governed, and if there is one section of these 
which claims a special share of consideration and thought, 
it is the one which, by reason of poverty and of ignorance, 
is least able to take care of itself. It follows that a civilised 
Power in Africa, while fully recognising the rights of the 
native chiefs to dispose of tribal lands on behalf of their 
people, cannot escape responsibility for seeing that those 
powers are rightly exercised. To do otherwise is the nega- 
tion of the functions of a Suzerain. Claims to the individual 
ownership of land must be scrutinised in the interest of 
the communities ; aUenation must not deprive the people 
of sufftcient land for their needs, and their rights of cultiva- 
tion, grazing, &c., must be safeguarded ; the consideration 
received from aliens for the use of land must be adequate, 
and the money received must be paid to and expended on 
behalf of the owners — the community. Have the several 
Governments in West Africa discharged their obligations fully 
in this latter respect ? 

By universal consent the land belongs to the people, for 
whom the chiefs act as trustees or agents, and it is the 

^ Of this there is abundant evidence. As to the Gold Coast, see Belfield's 
Report, paragraph 33, &c. So great have been the evils of this land litigation 
that a high official expressed a doubt whether its economic results were not as 
bad as the former inter-tribal wars. As to Nigeria, see Cmd. 468, 1920, 
appendix iii. 

Sir E. Speed, Chief Justice, pointed out that these land cases very rarely- 
referred to individual rights or disputes, but were generally concerned with 
tribal boundaries long ago settled by the district officer. 


function of Government to see that that trust or agency is 
carried out honestly. Sir H. Belfield informs us that the 
custom in the Gold Coast is that the consideration money is 
divided into three parts, of which the chief, the elders, and 
the chieftainship fund each take one. This practice, he 
writes, "is at variance with the traditional conditions which 
underlie the authority vested in the headman. They are 
supposed to exercise their authority for the common benefit 
of the tribe as a body, but they actually spend this money 
for purposes from which the ordinary members of the com- 
munity can derive no advantage, therefore the tribe finds 
itself despoiled of a substantial area of its land for a period 
which leaves it dispossessed for two or three generations, 
and receives no sort of compensation for the diminution of 
its property." ^ 

He recommends that a quarter of the money should be 
retained in a fund for the general benefit of the people, but 
it is impossible to deny that the proceeds of the sale of com- 
munal lands belongs entirely to the community, and should 
be spent in their behalf, and I so instructed the district staff 
in Southern Nigeria. 

I was at that time engaged in setting up in the districts 
most affected — Yoruba, Egba, and Benin — native treasuries 
such as I have described in chapter x. Eentals for com- 
munal land are properly paid into such treasuries, which 
constitute the common fund of the commimity. Since it is 
from them that the chiefs, under the system of " native 
administration," receive their salaries, and the expenses and 
dignities of the chieftainship are defrayed, they have an 
interest in the augmentation of the funds. Where native 
treasuries are not established, a communal fund can still be 
created, and it would be the duty of the district staff to see 
that it was not misspent, and to hold the chiefs accountable. 
Sir H. Belfleld's statement is a very serious indictment both 
against the native chiefs — though the whole tenor of his 
report shows that he did not lack sympathy with them — 
and against the control and supervision exercised by the 
Goverimaent on behalf of the lesser people. 

I have expressed the view that in territories where the 
control of the land is vested in the Government, it is in the 
public interest that Government should become the landlord 

' Report, paragraph 35. 


of all aUens, since, inter alia, it can by periodical revision of 
rentals, or by appropriate taxation, secure for the public revenue 
the expanding value of land, which arises directly or indirectly 
from the expenditure of the taxpayers' money. Unless there 
is an income tax on Europeans and other aliens, these values 
would not even partially be shared by the taxpayer. 

It is worth a moment's consideration how far this general 
principle is possible of application in territories where Govern- 
ment does not claim the disposal of the land — other, of 
course, than those districts declared to be under English 
land law. 

Before constructing a railway in such territories a colonial 
Government acquires the land "for a public purpose," in- 
cluding a sufficient area on either side of the track, on terms 
which are equitable to both parties. The method of doing 
so is usually laid down by law. Or it may be that in antici- 
pation of the benefits which will accrue to their trade, the 
native commxmities are wiUing to cede the land in perpetuity, 
in order to induce the Government to construct the line. In 
such cases, and also in the case of building plots in a pro- 
jected township, where Government has acquired the land 
in anticipation, the object in view is attained. 

But when the land is not required for a public purpose, 
but by a non-native for commercial or other purposes, it 
may be a matter for consideration whether Government 
should acquire the land from the native owners, and lease it 
to the non-native applicant, in order to carry out the prin- 
ciple which I have advocated of Government being the land- 
lord of all aliens.^ It might be argued that the native owner 
would not in that case obtain so good a bargain. To obviate 
this the terms might be fixed by a Land Court on which 
natives would sit as assessors. The acquisition, however, of 
land nominally for a public purpose, and its subsequent dis- 
posal on lease to non-natives, is clearly irregular, and unjust 
to the native owners, unless the phrase " acquisition for a 
public purpose " has been specifically defined to include 
acquisition for sublease to non-natives. 

In these southern dependencies in West Africa the intro- 
duction of cocoa and other permanent crops, which take 
several years to come to maturity, has accentuated the desir- 

' This was formerly the system in Uganda, but is now abandoned, — Annual 
Report 1918-19, No. 1054, p. 10. 


ability of affording to the cultivator some guarantee of his 
right to continued occupation. I have quoted Sir H. Bel- 
field's view that native land tenure will require some modifica- 
tion. Moreover, the density of the population (in Southern 
STigeria though not in the Gold Coast), and the long im- 
munity of the people from slave-raids, together with the 
prevalence of shifting cultivation, has resulted in there being 
no superabimdance of land in considerable regions. 

Interference with native customary law, which may be 
relied on to adapt itself to changing circumstances, is much 
to be deprecated ; but if intervention is found to be necessary 
ia the interests of the people, the first step might usefully 
be to abrogate the rule that the claim of a member of the 
family to land does not lapse, however prolonged his absence.^ 
This means that, an individual who left his village in boyhood 
may return after many decades — ^perhaps as a wealthy lawyer 
— and claim land. If the undeveloped land at the disposal 
of the family is exhausted some peasant must be ousted, a 
course which militates agaiust fixity of tenure, without which 
it is hopeless to expect any permanent improvement of the 
land. Abandonment for two years, except for the recupera- 
tion of the soU, should, I suggest, involve forfeiture of the 
claim to land. 

The cultivator who has the greatest need of protection is 
the " stranger " who, owiug to deficiency of land in his own 
district, has been driven to seek it elsewhere, and has been 
allowed to settle in another commimity where land is abundant. 
Such " strangers " may be welcomed by a tribe whose num- 
bers are decreasing, as adding to its strength. But so jealously 
guarded is the ownership of land in the west equatorial belt 
that the stranger may probably only be admitted on con- 
dition that he shaU plant no trees (cocoa, &c.), the owner- 
ship of which would give him a claim to dispose of the land 
beyond the term of his own life.^ 

This is so manifestly disadvantageous to the progress and 

1 Evidence from Nigeria was to the effect that an educated native vpho had 
spent the greater part of his life in Lagos could, if he desired, return to his 
village and claim land as of right. 

2 The Resident of a province in Southern Nigeria remarks that " there have been 
several instances where the owners of the land, so soon aa they see the valuable 
crops maturing, have made attempts to regain possession of the land, including 
the cocoa ; and many farmers, who in the ordinary course would probably be 
allowed to occupy land in perpetuity, hesitate to embark on cocoa-planting for 
want of sufficient security against their landlords. " 


permanent good of the country, that I essayed to modify 
native customary law by securing the adhesion of all the native 
authorities (after fuU discussion with them) to a native court 
rule, which aimed at securing continuous occupation to 
" strangers " under specified conditions, while placing a check 
on the irregular acquisition of tribal lands by undesirable 
strangers. These immigrants are of three types — (a) those 
who intend to identify themselves with the tribe, and by 
intermarriage become merged into it in the second genera- 
tion (these require no special protection) ; (b) those who 
settle on the land, but remain aliens to the tribe ; and (c) 
land speculators, who are generally absentee landlords, and 
may perhaps have acquired title to land from a chief who 
had no right under native law to grant it, but did not under- 
stand the effect of the deed — ^probably drawn by a native 
lawyer — conferring individual ownership. 

In some cases the stranger may have sold his title to an- 
other native, or may have assigned its use to a European 
(thus evading the law), or may assert his independence of the 
local native authority. Or he may have acquired the land 
purely as a speculation on its expanding value, and prove 
an obstacle to development. In this case it is the native 
authority, and not the stranger, who requires protection — 
and, indeed, in some cases the community has been disin- 
tegrated by the acquisition of land by such " strangers." ' 

The new rule recites that by native law no stranger can 
acquire an interest in tribal land except by consent of the 
native authority, nor can he permanently deprive the com- 
munity of the use of the land. It then lays down that the 
grant must be approved by the native court, and recorded 
by it in writing, with the signature of the parties. The 
Eesident's approval is also required, and he wiU see that the 

' Mr E. E. Dennett — a high authority — bears witness to the disintegration of 
tribal authority caused by ' ' the creation of a class of irresponsible landowners who 
pay no tribute." — 'African Society's Journal,' and ' Morning Post,' 14/3/1910. 

Natives of the colony of Sierra Leone residing in the protectorate, where 
the land is regarded as belonging entirely and unreservedly to the natives, pay to 
the local chief a rent of £1 for the right to occupy, or £1, 10s. if adjacent to an 
improved road. Land leased for permanent buildings must be transferred by 
deed and attested by the District Commissioner. A lease of agricultural land of 
under 50 acres must be approved by him. If over 50 acres and under 5000 the 
Governor's approval is required, and if over 5000 that of the Secretary of State. 
A chief cannot be compelled to alienate land, nor may he do so for his own 
benefit.— Sierra Leone Eeport, 1908, p. 51 ; Cd. 4448 of 1909. 


record is properly made, and that it assures to the stranger 
the right to plant permanent crops, or erect buildings, and 
to receive compensation if dispossessed otherwise than for 
misconduct or breach of the conditions. Eents (if demanded) 
must be paid to the communal fund. The grant would 
usually be for an indefinite time (except in a native city), 
and the occupier may assign his rights to another with the 
consent of the grantor and court. 

On the other hand, every stranger already in occupation 
of communal land must attend, if summoned, and satisfy the 
court as to his right of occupation, and its conditions Failure 
to attend may, with the consent of the Besident, involve 
forfeiture. The court, if satisfied, makes the necessary record. 
Any member of the community may appeal to the court if 
the chief has exceeded his powers. Conditions of occupation 
may include any special reservations. 

If a native stranger desires to acquire the full rights of 
individual ownership, he should only be able to do so by the 
same process as a non-native. Native court registration may 
perhaps be usefully extended to native occupiers of land 
under permanent plantations, who are not " strangers." In 
territories where the land is under Government control, 
strangers who desire to settle in a native city or elsewhere 
must obtain permission from the native authority, and un- 
reservedly accept its jurisdiction. They are treated as regards 
taxation, «fec., in all respects as local natives, otherwise they 
must reside in the native reservation of a township, or acquire 
land under the same conditions as apply to non-natives. 

As a general rule it is undesirable that leases or licences 
should be granted to non-natives for the collection of sylvan 
produce which the natives are capable of exploiting them- 
selves — such as palm-fruit, wild rubber, gum copra, &c. ; 
but where the exploitation involves the use of capital, and of 
appliances beyond the resources of the natives (as in the 
case of heavy timber for export), licences to non-natives are 
fully justified. Exceptions may also be made of small areas 
held in conjunction with experimental plantations, or to 
encourage the introduction of machinery for producing a 
better or a partially-manufactured product, or for saving 
labour. Such exceptions would be justified by their economic 
and educative value. 

In a former paragraph I alluded to the important rdle 


which the evergreen forest of the equatorial zone plays in 
the climate and the conservation of rainfall, apart from the 
great value of its products, which are rapidly being destroyed 
by shitting cultivation. No less damage is done by indis- 
criminate felling for mining purposes. Until education in 
forestry and agricultuxe has made much greater progress, it 
is manifestly the duty of Government, as trustee for posterity 
against the reckless destruction of the present generation, to 
safeguard what remains of these forests, while not disputing 
the claims of native ownership. 

" The keystone of aU forestry conservation," says Mr 
Thompson, " is reservation, by which a sustained and in- 
creasing yield of produce can be assured." ^ It is therefore 
essential that reserves should be created and kept inviolate 
from depredation. Licences to fell timber in them may only 
be granted with the consent of the Governor. They are 
limited as to time and area, and as to the classes and girth 
of trees which may be felled, and they impose conditions as 
to replanting. The revenue goes in part to the native owners, 
and in part to the public funds.* Natives in adjoining vil- 
lages may take timber and other produce for their own needs, 
but not for sale. Outside the reserves " protected trees " 
may only be felled for sale by licences, issued for short 

In Southern Nigeria an ordinance to give effect to these 
principles has long been in force, but in the Lagos hinterland 
its acceptance was formerly made contingent on the assent 
of the native councils, and it was practically inoperative. 
It has lately been revised and re-enacted for all Nigeria. In 
the Gold Coast a similar measure was opposed in 1910, and 
though passed with amendments later on, was not brought 
into operation. As in the case of the Concessions BiU, depu- 
tations visited England to protest against its iaterference 
with native rights. In Nigeria steps have been taken to 
associate the native authorities with the Government in the 
control of the reserves, with excellent results. 

' Cd. 4993, p. 197. 

^ The Government, it will be noted, shares the proceeds arising from the sale 
of forest produce with the native owners. This share, whether small or large, 
passes into general revenue and is expended for the benefit of the country. Its 
appropriation therefore differs essentially from the former "domain privfe" of 
the Congo State, where the profits went into the private pocket of the 


We have seen that land held in commimal tenure is culti- 
vated by the family or individual, but that its products as 
a rule belong solely to the cultivators. The attempt to form 
communal plantations of rubber under Government auspices 
has not been a marked success in the southern provinces of 
Mgeria. In a loosely-organised community they must be 
tended by forced labour, for no individual has any interest 
in them, and their general supervision, tapping, &c., falls 
on the Forestry or Agricultural Departments. Even in a 
more highly-organised native administration, when the labour 
is performed by paid employees, it would seem to be more 
advantageous to promote individual initiative and ownership 
in the crop. Communal fuel plantations in timberless districts 
for the benefit of large cities are, however, very desirable, and 
they require Uttle or no care once they are established. 

In the southern provinces of Mgeria, Crown lands are 
leased to natives either for an indefinite or for a specified 
term, and for any specific purpose. The leases are only 
terminable by voluntary surrender, breach of covenant, or 
i£ the land is required for a public purpose. In the latter 
case fuU compensation is, of course, given, and in the two 
former the value of all unexhausted improvements would 
usually be paid. Such leases would be under English law, 
or under the rules applying to individual ownership, according 
as they were in or beyond the area declared subject to English 
law, but they can only be transferred to natives, and with 
Government consent. 

Before leaving this branch of my subject, it will be useful 
to point out that the difference of meaning attached to words 
or phrases, familiar to us in their English sense, when applied 
to African conceptions may be a fruitful source of misunder- 
standing, and of apparently contradictory assertions by ex- 
perts ; for, as M. Delafosse observes, " there are certain ideas 
in native law which correspond to nothing analogous in our 
own laws." The term " ownership," for instance, as applied 
to land, is relative even in England, and is qualified by the 
right of Parliament to expropriate the owner if his land is 
essential for railway construction, &c. In Africa it is stiU 
more qualified, and the owner of land possesses it subject 
to certain weU-understood limitations and obligations towards 
the community to which he belongs. Thus, on the one hand, 
when it is asserted that " all rights in land are vested in the 


chief," or that he is the ultimate " owner," the assertion is 
accurate only if the term is used in its native sense, for his 
" ownership " is subject to most important limitations. It 
is equally true, on the other hand, that the peasant proprietor 
of a farm does not " own " it in the full sense of the English 
term, and if he sells it to a non-native he does so with the 
well-imderstood limitations and obligations imposed by native 
law. To assert that property in land is unknown in West 
Africa is, in my view, as inaccurate as the assertion that 
" individual ownership " in the English sense is recognised 
because the land may be sold, or bequeathed, and descends 
from father to son. African individual ownership is none the 
less real because it is qualified by concurrent rights and 
obligations, in the north more especially to the chief, and in 
the south by still further restrictions and obUgations to the 

From a perusal of this chapter it will, I think, be evident 
that the same discrimination must be exercised in referring 
to such terms as " waste lands," " sale," &c. 

Considerations of space, and the lack of personal experience 
in the evolution of the land question in Bast Africa, combine 
to place a limitation on the remarks which I have to make 
on the problems that present themselves in this group of 
dependencies. Much of what has been said regarding African 
conceptions of land tenure, and the rights exercised by Govern- 
ments, will apply, equally with West Africa, to those areas 
which lie at low altitudes, but in the regions which have 
been found possible for European settlement an entirely 
separate problem arises, to which the proximity of India, 
and the immigration of its people, adds complexity. 

These conditions are peculiar to a comparatively small 
portion — about 50,000 square miles, or one-fifth of the Colony 
of Kenya, — which lies at altitudes between 4000 ft. and over 
9000 ft., possibly also to small areas in the Shir6 highlands of 
Nyasaland.^ The aspects of the problem which have given 
rise to controversy are (a) that of Asiatic colonisation, and 
(b) that of native reserves. 

The first problem may be broadly stated as dealing with 
the right of British Indian subjects to acquire land without 

^ Mr Harcourt estimated the area already alienated at 4000 eq. miles with 
only a like amount fit for European settlement remaining — viz., a total colonisable 
area of 8000 sq. miles.— Despatch, 3/2/11 ; ' Gazette,' 1/3/11. 


restriction anywhere in the colony, and, in fact, " to stand 
on a footing of unquestioned equality with other settlers of 
whatever nationality," with no segregation, and with a 
common franchise and electoral roll on a reasonable property 
basis, plus an educational test without racial discrimination.* 
The question was discussed by the recent Imperial Conference 
(1921), and on this point alone its report was not unanimous. 
The resolution passed " reaflBrmed that of the Imperial War 
Conference of 1918, that each community of the British 
Commonwealth should enjoy complete control of the com- 
position of its population, by means of restriction on immi- 
gration from any of the other commimities," but it added the 
following rider : " The Conference recognises that there is an 
incongruity between the position of India as an equal member 
of the British Empire, and the existence of disabilities upon 
British Indians lawfully domiciled in some other parts of the 
Empire. The Conference accordingly is of the opinion that 
in the interests of the sohdarity of the British Common- 
wealth it is desirable that the rights of such Indians to 
citizenship should be recognised." The representatives of 
South Africa could not accept this resolution, and the matter 
was relegated for direct negotiation between India and South 

The resolution — ^to which the Colonial Secretary subscribed 
— ^refers only to Indians " lawfully domiciled in other parts 
of the Empire," and aflBrms the right of " each community 
of the British Commonwealth " — presumably including Kenya, 
which enjoys an advanced form of Crown Colony Goverimient 
— to exclude new immigrants. All the Dominions, except 
South Africa, having already excluded Indians, were thus 
able to subscribe to it. 

Lord Sydenham and two other members of the Joint 
Select Committee on Indian Affairs express in a letter to the 
' Times ' great apprehension as to the future of the colony 
of Kenya if the proposal to grant an equal status to Indians 
is carried iuto effect.* " It might lead," they say, " to the 
absorption by Indians ia due course of the whole government 
of the colony, and, in fact, this was quite definitely suggested 
as being their ultimate aim by witnesses claiming to speak 
on behalf of Indian opinion." An equal franchise with the 

' Lord Chelmsford's despatch of 21st October 1920, later endorsed by the 
Government of India, and supported by the Secretary of State. 
2 ' Times,' lat August 1921. 


white man would, in the view of the writers, convert a British 
colony into " an Indian independency." This view, Sir 
Valentine Chirol remarks, means that " the measure of the 
rights enjoyed by subjects of the Crown is to be determined 
by the colour of their skin, and the civUisation for which 
the British Empire stands is not an ethical, but a pujely 
racial civilisation." ^ 

Professor Keith considers that " nothing can be more un- 
fortunate than the attempt to use the protection of the 
natives as a ground for refusing equal justice to Indians." ^ 
But the responsibility which we have assumed towards the 
native races is " clearly a major and imperative duty," to 
which we have pledged ourselves, in the Tanganyika territory 
in particular, under the Mandate. It is not an obligation to 
be " used " with an ulterior motive, but any course of action 
which is in alleged opposition to it merits careful consideration. 

PubUc opinion in this country will without doubt agree 
with Sir V. Chirol that no difference in status can be based 
on colour, and will desire to satisfy the legitimate aspirations 
of India, to afford her room for expansion, and to make no 
avoidable reservations in her charter of equahty among the 
united nations of the Empire. Indians, it may be said, in the 
early days formed the backbone of the police and military 
forces both in Bast Africa and Nyasaland, and to them Bast 
Africa owes much of its progress, for they man the railways 
and workshops, and Jill the subordinate clerical posts.^ " The 
Government welcomed their entry into the country," said 
Mr ChurchiU, on his return from his visit to East Africa as 
Under-Secretary. It was hoped by the Colonial Office " that 
Equatorial Africa might offer a compensating field for the 
colonising enterprise of our fellow-subjects in India " to ease 
the Transvaal difficulty. What, then, are the grounds on 
which it has been alleged that we should f aU in our obligation 
to the native races by permitting free immigration and ac- 
cording an equal status to British Indians 1 

The first question is, are we justified in opening the flood- 
gates of Asiatic immigration which the indigenous races, had 
they not been disarmed and controlled by us, would have 

1 ' Times,' 5th August. ^ Ibid., 3rd August. 

^ In the Memo, signed by Lord Delamere on behalf of the unofficial councillors, 
and by Mr C. K. Archer, Chairman of the Convention of Associations, this claim 
is discounted by the statement that in the war only 376 Indians out of some 
20,000 in East Africa were combatants, of whom none were killed or wounded, 
while five were executed for treachery, and three others sentenced to death were 


resisted by force ? Africa has a virUe and potent racial type 
of her own, which under civilised government should multiply. 
American writers,^ who may be presumed to regard the ques- 
tion dispassionately, maintain that miscegenation — ^Uke an 
inferior currency according to Gresham's law — perpetuates 
the lower type, and as Mendel proves, the best qualities of 
each race are gradually eUmiaated. " Universal experience," 
says Mr M'Clure, " has shown that if two races occupy the 
same territory and are not intermarriageable naturally, great 
hostilities are inevitable." ^ Are we then, by admitting 
Asiatics, sowing dragon's teeth which will inevitably lead 
to a racial war in the future ? Though it may already be too 
late to raise this issue as regards the Indians already law- 
fully domiciled in East Africa, its great importance as regards 
future immigration cannot be denied. 

The second question is whether the type of immigrant — 
apart from racial divergence — ^is such as to promote the 
welfare of the country. The " East African Economic Com- 
mission," appointed in March 1917, was presided over by a 
Government official, and its signatories are men of the highest 
standing and position in the colony, some of them members 
of Council. They formulate a charge against the Indian 
colonists of so grave a nature that it is essential that it should 
be thoroughly investigated, and it not fully substantiated 
should be withdrawn.^ I do not quote it in full, for it is calcu- 
lated to embitter racial feehng, and is iadignantly repudiated 
by the Indians. They accuse the Indian of moral depravity 
debasing to the Africans, and of being an inciter to crime as 
well as vice. They add that the Indian quarters are almost 
invariably the foci of each successive outbreak of plague, 
owing to disregard of sanitation. In this last charge they are 
supported by the official handbook, which records the view 
that " Indian immigration must be regarded as disastrous." * 

' Madison Grant, 'The Passing of a Great Race.' L. Stoddard, 'The Rising 
Tide of Colour.' This book is full of statistics to prove that " true amalgama- 
tion is possible only between members of the same race stock" (p. 251), and the 
disastrous efltects of miscegenation between opposite types. He points to Cuba, 
Mexico, and Brazil (pp. 259 and 301). 

An American writer, 'Times,' 15th January 1921: "Cross-breeding from 
distinctive races (he says) results in a progency inferior to the original race." 

' Report, p. 21, published in 1919 by the Swift Press, Nairobi. See Memo, cited 
on p. 321, where the charge is repeated on the authority of Dr Burkitt, senior 
unofficial medical officer. 

* ' Admiralty Handbook,' p. 326. Sir R. Coryndon, Governor of Uganda, says 
that the better-class Indians own 40 per cent of the cotton-ginning business and 

THE claim: of the BRITISH SETTLER. 321 

As regards the better-educated immigrants, it is urged 
that the " advanced thought," which has found expression 
in India in seditious propaganda, and in "non-co-operation" 
and " civil disobedience " movements, constitutes a grave 
danger among ignorant races in Africa, and that both in 
South and East Africa harm has already been done. These 
are matters which demand impartial investigation ia the 
interests of the natives for whom we are responsible. 

The American writers to whom I have referred are emphatic 
that if Asiatic immigrants are admitted to a country they 
will "tmderlive," and so at first lower the standard of the 
European, and eventually squeeze him out.^ The claims of 
the British cannot be ignored. They discovered the country, 
and the British exchequer bore the financial burden. It is 
undeniable that the British settlers have been encouraged and 
invited by Government.^ It is chiefly by their iaitiative, 
technical knowledge, and capital that the colony has been 
developed, and without their continued presence it would 
relapse into barbarism, nor, as General Smuts says, could 
the Indians alone control the natives. It can hardly be denied 
that the British are the better fitted to be the governing 
race. In these circumstances it would be preferable if Indian 
emigration could be directed to those vacant places in the 
Empire where these difficulties do not arise, or are less acute, 
such as British Guiana, Honduras,^ North Borneo, and 

But whether this be feasible or not there remains the 
question of the Indians already domiciled in the country.* 

are of a good moral standard, but the great majority of Indians are petty traders 
who consider moral scruples in trade to be futile. They are demoralising to 
the Baganda. — 'United Empire,' June 1920. 

^ Stoddard (quoting Nearne) points to Natal, where the Asiatics now largely 
outnumber and are displacing the whites. The country, he says, tends to the 
type of Trinidad or Cuba rather than to that of Canada or Australia. Wages 
are out to the Asiatic level, and the working-class European has to go. He 
quotes also Mauritius and Hawaii. — Loc. cit., pp. 278-280. 

^ It must not be forgotten that it was the publicly announced policy of H.M.'s 
Government that, without imposing any legal restrictions, "grants of land in 
the uplands should not be made tp Indians," while grants in the lowlands should 
be restricted to agriculturists. A proviso in the ordinance enables the governor 
to exercise this discrimination (see p. 329), since the Land Board " agreed as a 
general fact that the intrusion of the Indian agriculturists meant the expulsion 
of the European element. "—Lord Elgin in Cd. 4117 of 1908, pp. 27 and 33. 

' In Guiana the density is 3'5 to the square mile, and in British Honduras 5. — 
'Statesman's Year-book," 1921, pp. 330 and 332. 

* The census of June 1921 gives the figures as 9651 Europeans and 22,822 
Indians. — Memo, cited on p. 319. 



They claim absolute equality, and the delegates at the Im- 
perial Conference (except those from South Africa) considered 
that their rights to citizenship should be recognised. To this 
the British settlers are bitterly opposed, and there is ample 
evidence of the existence of acute racial antagonism.^ 

In these circumstances it may be worthy of consideration 
whether some kind of solution, however imperfect, may be 
found by means of a territorial delimitation of the areas avail- 
able for occupation by each of the two alien races. Outside 
the area allotted to the British and Indians respectively no 
new settlement would be allowed. To each would be assigned 
an equal unofficial representation on the Government councils, 
subject to a strict educational and property qualification, 
identical for all, and by simUar methods of election.^ The 
more extensive employment of Indians in the Civil Service 
would render possible the nomination of some of them to 
official seats on the CouncU, wMle the Municipal Councils of 
each section would be composed entirely of its own race. 
It would, of course, be unavoidable that estates already owned 
by individuals of one race should in some cases be included 
in the territory assigned to the general occupation of the 
other, but no individual of either race would be allowed in 
future to acquire land within the area assigned to the other 
without its consent and that of the local Government, while 
to each race would be given the largest latitude to manage 
its own affairs. It would be clearly understood that the 
areas allotted to each were final, and that no further en- 
croachment on the lands of the natives would be allowed 
unless a new arrangement were made with the sanction of 
the Secretary of State. ^ 

Indians could not complain of segregation involving a 
racial discrimination, for the arrangement would be tri-lateral, 
equally binding and restrictive on the European, the Indian, 
and the African (see p. 149). The acquisition of trading sites 
outside the areas allotted for colonisation must necessarily 

' Mr Wallis, late Chief Secretary, Uganda, states that this racial feeling was 
unknown in that country, and ascribes it to the South African element in Kenya. 

' At present the British elect eleven and the Indians two members. 

^ Something of this nature appears to have been in Mr Churchill's mind, in 
the speech referred to, when he said that there was room for all ; but since the 
Europeans and Indians did not mix well, it would be necessary to reserve certain 
areas for the former, while "the rights of the aboriginal natives, the moral 
possessors of the soil," must also be considered. 


be at the discretion of the local Government, without racial 
distinction, but subject to uniform laws regarding sanitation 
and fair dealing with the natives. 

E'o one would pretend that such an arrangement would be 
an ideal one, but the question has been allowed to drift so 
long without a definite policy that an entirely satisfactory 
solution is no longer possible. The assignment of definite 
areas for immigrants, by a high authority, or by mutual 
agreement, would at least safeguard the claims of the natives, 
and render possible a clear policy ia regard to the limitation 
of immigration, both in Kenya, Tanganyika, and Nyasaland 
— a matter which in any case demands an immediate decision. 
Though it is stated that by a recent agricultural census there 
were only 1300 British settlers outside the township of Nairobi, 
the labour shortage is already causing serious difficulty, and in 
the interests aUke of the settlers themselves and of the natives, 
some limitation of British immigration appears to be called 
for until a solution is found. I shall discuss this aspect of 
the question more fully in the chapter on Labour (see p. 391 
et seg.). Indian immigration should be limited to iona fide 
agriculturists, with only such a proportion of others as are 
needed in the country. 

Were a solution on such Unes as these found to be feasible 
after full investigation on the spot, the special claims of each 
race would be considered in assigning the area for its colonisa- 
tion. In the case of the British, scientific knowledge, com- 
mand of capital, ability to handle the larger operations of 
agriculture, and inability to live at the lower altitudes ; in 
the case of the Indians, the fact that vacant lands at lower 
altitudes would ia aU probabUity require the expenditure of 
capital in irrigation, &c., might justify some special financial 
assistance, though the Indians would not, of course, be con- 
fined exclusively to lands requiring large capital outlay. 

The second problem peculiar to those limited regions in 
the tropics in which European settlement is possible, is that 
of " native reserves." On the high plateau lands the native 
population is not dense, the most popidous tribes being the 
Wa-Kikuyu and the Wakamba, in the provinces of Kenya 
and Ukamba, who are agriculturists, and the Masai, and other 
pastorals ia the lifaivasha province who are nomads. The 
areas inhabited by the settled tribes are reserved for their 
occupation, but do not appear to have been accurately de- 


limited, and are not " reserves " in the usual acceptation of 
the term. " The Masai alone," says Sir P. Gtrouard, " have 
had their reserves assigned to them by treaty." ^ Formerly 
this tribe roamed with its herds over a great expanse of 
country, but it was greatly reduced in mmabers by the out- 
break of rinderpest, which destroyed the cattle in 1890. 
With the advent of European settlers the segregation of the 
Masai into reseryes appeared to be a necessity, the more so 
on account of their lawless and predatory habits and dis- 
regard of human life. 

The policy of native reserves had long been accepted in 
South Africa, where Europeans form 27 per cent of the 
population.^ Its adoption in East Airica, where the natives 
outnumber the Europeans by about 280 to 1,* was based on 
the assumption that the European settlers would rapidly 
multiply and take up the vacant lands ; for as Sir C. Eliot, 
the first Commissioner, wrote, " the interior of the Protec- 
torate is a white man's country, and it is mere hypocrisy 
not to admit that white interests must be paramount, and 
the main object of our poUcy and legislation should be to 
found a white colony." * Provided that the area assigned 
to the natives was fully adequate for their needs, and for 
future expansion, and that proper steps were taken for their 
material and moral welfare, few will be found to dispute the 
advisabUity or justice of the formation of native reserves in 
the circimistances. 

Sir C. EUot, however, dissents from this view. "As a 
general principle," he writes, " I am opposed to the creation 
in this protectorate of native reserves, meaning by that name 
not plots of land kept here and there to meet the needs of 
natives, but territories in which natives are segregated and 
left to themselves ; . . . reserves by isolating natives tend to 
perpetuate bad customs, and to retard civilisation and mis- 
sionary work." Where, however, it is not possible for natives 
to be restricted, " they should be allowed to immigrate to 
lands reserved for their use " — a qualification which deprives 
his objection of much of its point. Eeserves may, he thinks, 

1 'Annual Report, 1909-10,' Cd. 5467 of 1911, p. 38. 

'^ Census of 1911, 'Statesman's Year-book, 1921,' p. 212. 

' The native population of three highland provinces of Naivasha, Kenya, and 
Ukamba is given as 1,268,000 and the Europeans as 4571 in 1917-18. — 
'Admiralty Handbook,' Appendix "A.," p. 581. 

^ ' East African Protectorate,' pp. 105 and 310. 


" sometimes be advisable in dealing with very strong native 
races, or where it is desired to prevent the desteniction of a 
vanishing race, but they tend to isolate a tribe and prevent 
their fusion with other stocks, and so forming the hybrids 
to which virility and improvement are due." 

Sir P. Girouard when Governor expressed a similar view. 
The creation of reserves, he writes, " amounts to the dedica- 
tion of lands for the perpetuation of barbarism. It would 
appear to me desirable to place aU native reserves in the 
hands of trustees, who might conceivably be drawn from the 
judiciary or mission bodies," since they would protect the 
natives and favour Government proposals for their benefit.^ 
But Government is itself the trustee, and should be com- 
petent to take its own measures for the good of the natives. 

Sir C. Eliot's alternative to the system of reserves is that 
" native villages should remain on the estates of Europeans 
in order to supply workmen, the villages and a sufficient 
amoimt of land round them being the property of the natives, 
and excluded from the area of the European's property." 

The Economic Commission strongly supported this " inter- 
penetration policy," as being more favourable to the natural 
development of the country, which they frankly place in the 
foreground, since " every one, including the civil servant, 
is concentrated on producing wealth," and secondly, as more 
conducive to the welfare and progress of the natives. The 
policy of reserves is, they say, more suited to South Africa 
as an industrial country than to an agricultural country like 
East Africa. 

By strictly limiting the extent of the reserves to areas 
already in beneficial use by the natives, and allowing no 
margin for increase of population, they propose to force the 
surplus to settle in villages interspersed among the European 
settlers, and to encourage them to become " labour tenants 
on European farms." The areas in which the natives are 
concentrated are to be distributed as widely as possible 
throughout the reserves, with tracts between them for white 
settlements. The labour available for European scientific 
production will thus be largely increased. " Exploitation," 
they consider, is not possible where no economic pressure 
exists, and the demand for labour exceeds the supply. They 
are opposed to small holdings. " The natives (they say) 

1 'Annual Report, 1909-10,' Cd. 5467 of 1911, p. 38. 


can only stagnate under a system of peasant proprietorship." 
They condemn the existing reserves, which are " practically 
identical " with the game reserves, and (they infer) are with- 
out medical and veterinary faculties, or adequate education. 
They consider them strongholds of savagery, ignorance, and 
superstition. The chiefs, they say, are not tribal chiefs, but 
the nominees of Government, without authority and engaged 
in enriching themselves. 

But these are not the conditions which ought to exist ia 
a native reserve, and if they do exist in East Africa there 
can be no question of their contiQuance. With adequate 
medical supervision the population will increase, for the 
Africans are a prolific race ; and though the ratio of natives 
to whites may decrease, the time must eventually come when 
the original, and numerically greater, population will learn 
to resent the status of labour tenants to Europeans. 

The results of " iaterpenetration " would, it is only too 
probable, reproduce some of the worst features of the old 
slave plantations — ^immorality and irresponsibility. The 
policy is one which can hardly be said to be compatible with 
the principles which this country has advocated, through 
its statesmen, at Brussels and at Paris, as those which should 
guide our action towards subject races. And looking to the 
future, I am conviaced that it would be fraught with danger 
and disaster. This criticism of " the iaterpenetration policy " 
does not, of course, mean that employees who of their own 
free-wiU prefer the conditions of permanent wage-earning 
labourers on an alien estate should not live with their famUies 
upon it, cultivating their own allotments in their spare time, 
or as herdsmen ia charge of stock on a European ranch. 
This is a different proposition to that of breaking up tribal 
organisations and distributing the people among European 
estates, and suppressiag reserves with the same object. 

Mr Ehodes' opioions on this subject were embodied in the 
Glen-Grey Act,'- which was a carefully- considered scheme for 
the organisation of a model reserve. It provided for the 
division of land — not already hypothecated — ^into locations, 
each of which would be subdivided into allotments of about 
four morgen (eight and a half acres), with sufficient common- 
ages for general use. Each location is controlled by a Board 
of three resident landholders, and a certain number of the 

1 Act No. 25 of 1904, enacted 15th August 1904. 


members of these Boards are appointed to a District Council, 
presided over by the Eesident Magistrate. The Coimcil is 
empowered to raise and expend rates, and generally to manage 
the location. A land rental of 15s. must be paid by each 
holder, with an additional 3s. for each morgen over four. 
Defaxdt involves distraint and eventual cancellation of title. 
The allotment passes by primogeniture to male descendants. 
It thus creates a system of freehold, hereditable holdings in 
a reserve, controlled by native Boards and Councils, super- 
vised by a European officer. 

The motives which prompted this legislation are explained 
in the numerous works on Mr Ehodes' life and poUcy.^ His 
conception was, I think, a finer one than those I have dis- 
cussed. He firmly held to the view that social progress and 
development among the natives coidd best be promoted by 
individual holdings in land. " I find," he said, when moving 
the second reading of the BUI, " that there are certain loca- 
tions for natives where, without any right or title to the land, 
they are herded together. ... I hold that natives should 
be apart from the white men and not mixed up with them. 
. . . We will put them on the land, we wiU let them manage 
their own affairs." ^ In conversation he frequently asserted 
his beUef that individual possession of land was the key to 
the social elevation of the natives, and created seK-respect. 
He considered segregation necessary to preserve them from 
liquor and European vices, and desired that they should 
enjoy self-government in their own locations, but should not 
interfere in colonial politics which did not interest them. 
He believed ia taxation as a means of compelliag natives to 
work. The four principles of the Glen-Grey Act are described 
as, " Work, segregation in the reserves, individual property 
in land, and local self-government." 

The adequacy of the area assigned for reserves, so as to 
allow for increase of population, is a difficult matter, especially 
when it is complicated by the possession of large and rapidly 

^ See especially the ' Life ' by Basil Williams. 

2 'Cecil Rhodes,' by Vindex, pp. 361-390. Nine years later (1903) a select 
committee of the Cape Assembly reported the result as having been most 
beneficial to the natives. " Individual land tenure and self-government have 
done much." Mr Williams tells us that in thirteen years the rates reached the 
sum of £46,750, half of which was devoted to education, in which great progress 
was made, and £12,700 to roads. New reserves were added, the natives were 
eager to take up plots, and in three years numbered 6576. With the prohibition 
of all liquor, and the increase of education, the inclination to work increased. 


increasing flocks and herds, for which extensive grazing is 
required. It must necessarily be controlled by the Secretary 
of State. In Rhodesia the Commission appointed by Mr 
Harcourt reserved " twenty-four acres for each man, woman, 
and child for exclusive and permanent native occupation." ^ 
The area cannot be decreased without the consent of the 
Secretary of State. 

The East African settlement does not appear to have been 
so generous, judging from the evidence of the Colonial Secre- 
tary (Mr HoUis) and the medical officer, Nairobi.^ 

With regard to land tenure generally in East Africa a very 
interesting paper was presented to Parliament in 1912,^ from 
which we learn, on the authority of the different Governors, 
what are the principles which have been accepted, and the 
conditions regarding land in each of the African dependencies. 
Within the ten-mile coast strip in East Africa — now the 
Kenya Protectorate — individual tenure is recognised, but a 
native must substantiate his claim to the land he occupies 
before he can obtain a certificate of title from Government. 
No restriction is placed on alienation. In Kenya Colony 
Government claims the right to dispose of aU land, but the 
settled tribes have not been disturbed where they are in 
actual occupation of land. " Native chiefs," says the report, 
" are tenants under Government of the areas occupied by 
their people." These areas, as we have seen, are called native 
reserves, but only the pastoral Masai have been coniined ia 
properly delimited reserves assigned by treaty.* The land 
in the reserves " is supposed to be held in communal tenure, 

^ Letter from the Secretary of the Chartered Company to the ' Times,' 3rd July 
1920, and Cmd. 507 of 1920. The cattle are stated to have increased from 
55,155 to 652,776 in eighteen years. The chairman states, moreover, that 
there is no legal restriction against natives purchasing land outside the 
reserves, and they do in fact do so for very large sums of money. — Report, 
28th October 1920. 

^ Mr Hollis states that all the most fertile land in the Rift Valley and 
Leikipia grazing grounds was taken from the Masai and sold to white settlers, 
"solely in the interests of the settlers." — Cd. 5584, 1911. The medical officer of 
Nairobi on the Government Commission of 1912-13 states that "the inadequacy 
of the reserves in Fort Hall and Nyeri districts for future development is 

' Command Paper 68 of 1912-13. 

* In 1913 the Masai tribe brought an action against the Attorney-General, 
e.g., the Colonial Government, for breach of pledges in regard to their reserves. 
The Judge of the High Court ruled that the acts of the defendants were acts of 
State, not cognisable by a Municipal Court. "If a wrong has been done, it is 
a wrong for which no Municipal Court can afiford a remedy." The matter was 
allowed to drop, with this very inconclusive judgment. — Cd. 6939 of 1913. 


and is alienable." Vacant lands were disposed of by Govern- 
ment, and very large blocks were sold to syndicates or indi- 
viduals. It is estimated that nearly 5 J million acres (8132 sq. 
mUes) was disposed of in this way — much of it as freehold.^ 

The conditions on which settlers may obtain land in East 
Africa has been the subject of much controversy and many 
changes. In 1906 Lord Elgin raised the question of specu- 
lation in land, and laid down the principles of periodical 
revision and a graduated land-tax.^ The present position 
seems to be that leases for agricultural land are for 999 years, 
the rent for the first 33 being 10 cts. an acre, for the second 
33 at 1 per cent, for the third at 2 per cent, and for every 
subsequent period of 33 years at 3 per cent of the unim- 
proved value. Preliminary occupation licences and the land- 
tax (to prevent accumulation of land by any one person) 
have been dropped. Not less than certain specified minima 
must be spent on improvements — classified as " permanent " 
and " temporary." An important clause empowers the 
Governor to veto an assignment of land when the assignee 
is of a different race to the assignor. 

In Uganda proper, by the terms of the 1900 treaty, " natives 
own large areas as freehold, they can dispose of it as they 
Kke among themselves, but no individual can hold more 
than thirty square miles as private property without the 
consent of the Governor." The return shows that under the 

^ The East African Syndicate obtained 320,000 acres (500 square miles) on 
a nominal rental with option to purchase (under conditions) as freehold. Three 
other blocks of 100 square miles each are referred to in the return, which states 
that the total area held from the Crown on terminable leases was estimated (in 
1911) at 4,550,065 acres, " with an additional 654,765 acres of freehold." East 
Africa was under the Foreign Office at the time these large concessions were 
granted. Correspondence relating to them was published in two Blue-books. — 
Cmd. 2099 and 2100 of 1904. See also Cmd. 2163, and Sir Charles Eliot's 
book, 'The East African Protectorate,' p. 309. 

^ The earlier conditions of unrestricted freehold were embodied in Ordinance 
21 of 1902 ('Gazette,' 31st July). When the control of the protectorate passed 
to the Colonial Office, Lord Elgin insisted on the dangers of accumulations of 
enormous areas of land in the hands of individuals through the operation of free 
transfer, instancing Australia. He proposed a graduated land-tax, and a 
maximum limit for holdings, together with periodical revision of rentals, in order 
that Government should obtain its share of the unearned increment in the value 
of the land.— -Despatch, 19th March 1908. Cd. 4117 of 1908, p. 30. These 
proposals met with much local opposition, but Mr Harcourt supported his 
predecessor's policy (Despatch, 3rd February 1911). The area of grants was 
limited according to the quality of the land, with a corresponding scale of rentals. 
Leases were to be for ninety-nine years only, and revisable at the thirty-third 
and sixty - sixth year (5 per cent of the unimproved value, with fixed 


Baganda, Busoga, Bnayoro, Toro, and Ankole agreements 
6,156,570 acres were assigned as freehold to the chiefs, 72,477 
as freehold to missions, and 12,650 acres to other non-natives, 
while 99,143 were imder lease. The remaining 59 mUUon 
odd acres were apparently at the disposal of Government, 
no chief or other person being recognised as having " either 
a freehold or leasehold interest in them." There is no allusion 
to the nature of the pre-existing native tenure.^ 

" No chief or tribe is now considered as being the owner of 
any land in Nyasaland," says the Governor. Prior to British 
rule, " many chiefs had sold large tracts of country to private 
individuals without conditions. Many of these were con- 
firmed later, subject, inter alia, to the condition "that existing 
villages be not disturbed. The balance of land, originally 
owned by chiefs and tribes, was handed over to the Crown 
by tribes before and after the protectorate was proclaimed." 
6000 square miles are shown as alienated, all but 63 square 
miles being freehold. The remaining land is classed as " held 
by the Crown." * Leased land may not be assigned or sub- 

^ Sir H. Johnston's large work on Uganda deals very briefly indeed with 
the land question. The agreement (of 1900), he says, "transferred a little less 
than half of Uganda as the private property of the king, princes, princesses, and 
chiefs, and a large number (some 2000) of native land-owners," viz., all that 
they occupied, cultivated, or used for grazing, and "they were pledged to a 
proper treatment of their native tenants." The remainder, including the forests, 
" was handed over to the British Government to be dealt with on the same lines 
as Crown lands in a Crown colony. . . . Any landless native of Uganda can 
acquire cultivable land from the Administration at an almost nominal rental." 
Agreements were made with Ankole, Toro, &c., on similar lines. — 'Uganda 
Protectorate,' vol. i. p. 250. Mr (now Sir F.) Jackson writes that "the land 
occupied by the natives belongs to them, and only unoccupied land belongs to 
the Government." The onus of proof that the laud is not waste (and therefore 
Crown land) lies on the claimant. — Handbook 98, p. 128. 

^ A full description of his original settlement is given by Sir H. Johnston in 
his book on Nyasaland. Villages were as a rule excluded from the alienated 
lands, and ' ' the natives were informed that the sale of the surrounding land 
did not include the alienation of their houses and plantations. . . . The tenure 
of the land was in reality tribal — viz., theoretically the chief had no right to 
alienate the land, . . . one of the results therefore was to completely free . . . 
the natives by restoring to them the inalienable occupancy of their villages and 
plantations." Finally, treaties were concluded with all the chiefs of the pro- 
tectorate "securing Crown control over the remainder of the land, which the 
natives were henceforth unable to alienate without the sanction of the Com- 
missioner. In some cases (says Sir H. Johnston) large sums were spent in 
buying up waste lands, where complete control over its disposal was desired. A 
percentage of the selling price or rental was paid to the native chief when 
portions of the Crown lands are let or sold." — 'British Central Africa,' pp. 
112, 113. The Official Handbook No. 95 states that the "British Central 
African Company " owns 350,000 acres, the "African Lakes Company" and the 
"Blantyre and East African Company," 150,000 each (p. 69). 


let without the Governor's written permission, and no rent 
or service may be exacted from any native on the land. 

From this brief summary it appears that throughout these 
three protectorates the Government has assumed to a greater 
or less degree not merely the right to control, but the actual 
ownership of the greater part of the land. In the available 
records — the Blue-books of the time and the works of Sir C. 
EUot and Sir J. Johnston, their earliest administrators and 
historians — ^we do not find any record of iavestigations as to 
the native systems of land tenure. EngUsh terms are used, 
and English conceptions of land tenure seem to have guided 
the principles of the settlements or agreements. In Uganda, 
" kings, princes, princesses " and others are granted freehold 
lands, and the rest of the people are referred to as their 
" tenants." The Government is regarded as the owner of 
the land not included in these freeholds, which apparently 
embraced the land actually occupied at the time. The de- 
mands made by any increase of population since that date 
(1900) are to be satisfied by Government, whose rent-paying 
tenants these " landless natives " were to become. 

In Nyasaland the settlement appears to have assured to 
the natives the possession at least of their actual villages 
and plantations, though it is stated that no chief or tribe 
now owns any land. Settlers in some cases obtained their 
land at prices as low as |d. an acre (27s. a square mile). 

The density of the population has, of course, an intimate 
relation to the importance of the land to the natives, the 
amoimt available for expropriation to aliens, and the labour 
supply. A glance at the table on page 45 reveals the astonish- 
ing paucity of the population of British tropical Africa, even 
though it be considerably greater than that of the French 
possessions. The density per square mile (14'4) is in striking 
contrast to that of British India (223 iu 1911) or of Hong- 
Kong (1530).^ These figures bear eloquent testimony to the 
sufferings of the people of Africa iu the past, and to the 
possibilities of the future, when, with the aid of peace and 
prosperity on the one hand and of medical science on the 
other, the vacant places fill up under British control. 

Calculations of average density over vast areas are, how- 

' The 'Stateaman's Year-book, 1921,' gires the population of the colony 
(exclusive of leased territory) as 501,000, area 35 sq. miles — viz., a density per 
sq. mile of 14,314 ! 


ever, apt to give a wrong impression, for the people are very 
unequally distributed. Northern Nigeria, for instance, with 
an average density of 36*2, includes areas where the density 
reaches 350 to the square mUe, with corresponding depopu- 
lated lands with perhaps not more than one or two to the 
square mile. The Sudan, with its million odd square mUes, 
has an average density of three only, but stretches of desert 
have no population at aU.^ 

The table is interesting. The average density of the group 
of West African dependencies appears to be six times that 
of the eastern. The Gold Coast, which has been most clamant 
of its land rights, shows a density of less than twenty. In all 
except in the few very densely populated districts, it may 
be said that there is ample room for the legitimate needs of 
aUen enterprise and development. 

In those regions, whether in the east or west, where Euro- 
pean settlement is not possible, the demand for land by non- 
natives is so limited, the area available is so large, and, except 
in limited districts, the native population is so small, that, 
whether the Government ia theory owns the land or not, 
it is not likely in practice that the native cultivator will find 
any difficulty ia obtaining all the land he needs. 

It would, however, seem desirable that the claim of the 
natives of the soU to sufficient rent-free lands for their needs 
should be explicitly recognised, and there should be no ques- 
tion of " landless natives becoming Government tenants." 
For the rest, since by treaty, consent, or estabUshed usage the 
Governments in Eastern Africa have for a long period exer- 
cised a control of the land at least equivalent to that con- 
ferred by conquest, the extent and the limitations of that 
control might well be embodied in the local legislation as a 
guide to the British staff. The claim of the State should be 
that of trustee and not that of owner, and in other respects 
the legislation would, I hope, embody the principles which 
I have discussed as relating to conquered countries, which it 
will have been noted diverge in some important respects from 
the proposals of the Lands Committee regarding Northern 

1 The Haifa Province (112,300 square miles) has only 1 person to 3 square 
miles; Dongola (124,300 square miles) only 1, and Berber and Red Sea (125,800) 
only IJ per square mile, while the Shilluk country is said to be the most 
densely populated in Africa. — Handbook 98, pp. 1 and 20. 




General conditions of land grants — Building leases — Agricultural leases — 
Mining leases — Grazing leases — Eevision of rentals of all leases — 
Premium — Sents — Auction — Improvements — Surrender ^ Inter- 
dependence of lease conditions — Compensation — Object of lease con- 
ditions — Views of Liverpool merchants — Acquisition of land — Mission 
lands — Registration — Southern Rhodesia — Other British tropics — 
India — Burmah — West Indies — Malaya — Fiji — Hong-Kong — Non- 
British tropics —French — Portuguese — The Congo — Java — Philippines 
— China. 


Ownership of minerals — Justification of Government ownership — Aliena- 
tion of mineral rights by Suzerain — Conditions of native ownership — 
Varying conditions of mining laws — The function of Government — 
Prospecting licences— Mining leases — Government monopoly in coal 

I PROPOSE now to offer a few comments on the conditions 
on wMch land may reasonably be granted by Governments 
to non-natives, ia the hope that they may perhaps prove 
useful or suggestive to administrators, though probably the 
general reader may feel disposed to " skip " the next few 
paragraphs. My comments refer to the tropics proper, and 
are not, generally speaking, appUcable to homesteads and 
farms held under conditions of English law in East Africa. 
It has for many years past been an accepted principle 
in British Crown dependencies that land granted to non- 
natives must be held on terminable leases and not as free- 
jiold — whether the grant is by the Crown or by a native, — 
but occupation rights to a native may be for an iudeflnite 
term. Land grants are exclusive of mineral rights. The 
conditions of general application — such as those relating to 
security of title, payment of rent, rights of way, survey, &c. 


— are usually contained in ordinances and regulations, and are 
implied in the document of title, which contains any addi- 
tional covenants. The Crown usually reserves the right to 
lay telegraphs or pipes across the land if necessary, on pay- 
ment of compensation, and waterside leases usually reserve 
a strip of land as a public right of way along the water's edge. 
Ifative rights are safeguarded, and payment must be made 
for aU unexhausted improvements assessed by Government. 
It is usual also to require that the lessee shall effect certain 
specified improvements within a stated time. These may be 
either in fulfilment of the purpose for which the lease is 
granted — e.g., to erect buildings of a certain value under a 
building lease, &c. — or they may effect permanent improve- 
ments on the land, such as raising its level or reclaiming swamp, 
or filling in pits, &c. Improvements of the former class are 
the property of the lessee, but those of the latter class are in 
the nature of a contract between the lessor and the lessee, 
whereby the latter undertakes to do certain work which 
otherwise must be done by the lessor. The cost is repaid by 
an equivalent remission of premium or rental, and they 
belong therefore to the lessor. 

The term of leases of residential sites in the European 
quarter of a township must be sufficient to encourage a lessee 
to spend capital in permanent buildings, &c. — say for ninety- 
nine years. If the land is only used for warehouses, or for 
temporary houses outside a township, the term would pro- 
bably be less. The length of the lease is usually stated in 
the auction notice. The covenant requires that buildings of 
a specified value shaU be erected within a specified time. To 
prevent overcrowding, the number of persons who may reside 
on a native plot may be restricted. 

The area of European residential sites in a township is 
usually not less than one or more than two acres, and in a 
native location, quarter to half an acre (which may not be 
subdivided), exclusive of separate garden allotments. Out- 
side a township they may extend to five acres or more. Leases 
of wharves, railway sidings, &c., are subject to special terms 
and conditions. 

Agricultural leases in Nigeria are limited to 1200 acres, 
and a separate building lease is required for permanent 
European residences, but labourers' huts, store-sheds, &c., are 
allowed. Natives resident on the land do not become tenants, 


and no rent may be charged to them. The term of an agri- 
cultural lease may he from forty-five to sixty years, or longer 
if^costly machinery is installed — oil-mills, saw-miUs, &c. The 
lessee should bring at least one-eighth of the area under 
cultivation each year. The same lessee should not hold two 
coterminous leases so as to evade the Umit of size. " Dummy- 
ing " must, of course, be guarded agaiast ia aU leases. Such 
leases are intended for rubber, cocoa, and similar plantations 
in regions not suited to European settlement. Allotments for 
gardens around a township are usually granted on short-term 
leases to natives at very low rentals. Forest licences convey 
no rights whatever in the land. 

With regard to mining leases — I am only concerned here 
with surface rights. When the mines are underground these 
are unimportant, and consist merely of the area required for 
the erection of machinery, disposal of tailings, and residential 
areas for Europeans and labourers. Where, however, the 
workings are alluvial or open-cast, surface rights are, of 
course, all-important. Leases and " mining rights " may in 
Nigeria be for 800 and 76 acres respectively. Surface rights 
can be claimed over any area certified by the Inspector of 
Mines to be actually required for mining purposes. For 
permanent residences, recreation grounds, trading stores, or 
plantations, a separate lease is required. If the grant of 
surface rights would deprive the natives of sufficient cultiv- 
able land for their support, the mining lease might be refused. 

As to grazing leases — ^in a populated country where pastoral 
tribes own millions of cattle and flocks, grazing land for stock 
and ostrich farming is, of course, only available where lack 
of water or fodder-grass prevent its use by the natives. It 
follows that a trustee in control of the land for the benefit of 
the natives can grant no extensive grazing rights in such 
coimtries to non-natives, except in regions at present useless 
for the purpose. There are great areas in Nigeria where these 
conditions apply — ^lack of water and of forage ; there are 
stiU greater areas in the Sudan and the Kalahari and Rhodesia. 

The pioneer should have security for a good return on the 
capital he has risked, by an option after the first twenty years 
to renew for a further period of, say, fifty years, over all land 
which he has rendered useful. A grazing lease should not 
exclude native settlements on the land, which, with proper 
safeguards regarding cattle disease and the use of water, 


would be advantageous to the lessee. The natives would not, 
of course, be his tenants, but free occupiers. Exclusive grazing 
rights would be confined to fenced areas on leased land, and 
it would be the duty of the District Officer to see that, if the 
lessee were allowed to graze stock outside his leased area, 
no preference whatever was obtained over native herds, and 
the non-native cattle-owner would pay a cattle tax or licence. 
The land must, of course, be used for the purpose for which 
it is granted — including the raising of fodder and com for 
cattle or ostriches. 

The Colonial Office has of late years insisted that leases 
of all kinds by Government to non-natives should be subject 
to revision of rental periodically. In East Africa, as we have 
seen, leases are revised at the thirty-third and sixty-sixth 
years. ^ In Northern Nigeria the ordinance, as recommended 
by the Committee, enacted septennial revision, — ^the term was 
later extended (for building leases only) to twenty years. 

Eevision is based on the exchange value of the land irre- 
spective of improvements by the lessee. For leases of sixty 
years and upwards revision at one-third and two -thirds of 
the term seems reasonable — shorter leases at half-time with 
exemption for those of ten years or less. The period should, 
however, vary according to situation, being shorter in a rapidly- 
growing township, newly served by a railway, and longer in 
back districts where the land is unlikely to appreciate rapidly 
in value. If land held under an agricultural lease has become 
valuable for building purposes, the lessee, if required to sur- 
render any portion, should be entitled to full compensation 
both for improvements and disturbance, with an equivalent 
extension in another direction. Leases of Crown lands to 
natives not subject to income tax should be equally liable to 
revision, but land leased for purely mining purposes should 
be exempt. An appeal to the courts or to arbitration against 
the revised rent should always be aUowed. 

This system has naturally been opposed by lessees as in- 
volving State interference, and introducing an element of 
uncertainty as to future rents which would render it difficult 
to borrow money on mortgage. Its advocates, on the other 
hand, maintain the right of the colonial revenue to partici- 
pate directly in the increasing value of land (due in great 
part to the expenditure of pubhc money), and they argue 

1 Also in Uganda Annual Report, 1918-19, No. 1654. 


that the revision system enables the Government to encourage 
pioneer effort by very low initial rentals.^ The alternative, 
as I have said (p. 293), seems to lie in an income tax by 
which the State receives its share of the expanding profits 
made from the land, or the graduated land-tax on Europeans, 
proposed by Lord Elgin and Mr Harcourt.^ It caimot, how- 
ever, be denied that revision at such short intervals as seven 
years is harassing and deterrent to private enterprise. 

Premium may be regarded as a capitalisation of a portion 
of the rent due up to the date of the first revision, and is a 
reimbursement to the pubUc revenues of the day of the ex- 
penditure incurred in providing necessary access to sites and 
other amenities.* It also forms a convenient basis for bidding 
at auction. As a rough-and-ready hypothesis, the premium 
should not exceed the annual rental, multipUed by half the 
period up to the first revision. In some colonies the premium 
charged is fixed at four to ten times the rental, apparently 
without regard to these considerations. If the amenities 
provided (roads, drains, water-supply, &c.) are defrayed from 
municipal funds, the municipality and not the general revenue 
would receive the premium. The rent fixed at revision is the 
original annual value without premimn, plus any increased 
value of the land apart from the lessee's improvements. 

Eents depend on the exchange value of land, and in a 
country where as yet land has little or no exchange value, 
and there is more than enough for aU demands, it can only be 
arbitrarily fixed in relation to the amenities of the site, and 
the profits to be made by occupying it. Auction in such a 
case is of little value in determining it, for except in a re- 
stricted township there is probably no person other than the 

^ A critic of this system writes : " X, Y, and Z take up plots at a certain 
rent and proceed to improve their holdings. After a time W wants a plot. 
The amount of trade that the enterprise of X, Y, Z has drawn to or developed 
in the place has enhanced the value of the land, and at an auction W is con- 
tent to pay such enhanced rate. Now if X, Y or Z's first revision falls due, 
Ws value can form the basis for the increase. If that does not mean 
that X, Y, and Z are being charged on their own improvements, what does it 
mean ? " The system is not the fancy of any local Administrator, but has 
been laid down, for East and West Africa alike, by His Majesty's Government. 
The officer employed in dealing with such questions must necessarily be an 
expert, and it is for him to judge to what extent enhanced rentals are due to 
the expenditure of the State and the community in general, and to what extent 
they are due to the individual enterprise of the lessee. 

^ Despatch of 29/2/1911 in 'East African Gazette' of 1/3/1911. 

2 See Table, "Present Value of Lease," Whitaker, p. 399. 



applicant who is interested in acquiriag the land. Even in a 
new township, the boimdaries of which can be extended 
without difficulty, there can only be competition based on 
the comparison between two particular lots, unless fewer lots 
are put up for auction than there are known to be applicants. 

It is, however, manifest that where the profits of occupation 
have iacreased a thousandfold by the advent of a railway 
built out of a local revenue, that revenue (e.g., the local tax- 
payer) is entitled to a fair share of the profits for the benefit 
of the country (whether by means of an income or profits 
tax or by revision of rentals) — especially if those profits are 
made by persons with a foreign domicile, and only partially 
expended ia the country. Comparison with rental values in 
England, where tenants have heavy rates and taxes to pay, 
is of course misleading. 

The principle to be adopted seems, therefore, to be that 
the rent and premium shoidd bear some relation to the esti- 
mated profits of occupation within the first revision period, 
in comparison with the direct taxes levied on the native 
population. In an old colony the price at which land has 
changed hands by private sale, and the price obtained for 
similar lots at auction, afford data on which the upset price 
and rental can be fixed with accuracy. As between lots in a 
particular locality, the extent of frontage on the sea, or 
on a navigable river, or on a railway or road, wiU of course 
afford data for comparative valuation. Eentals for land 
owned by the Government must be distinguished from a 
land-tax. In agricultural leases the rent shoidd be low for 
the first six years, imtil the trees come into bearing. In 
Penang the rent is quadrupled after the sixth year. 

Surface rentals for land leased for open-cast or alluvial 
mineral workings should, when the minerals belong to the 
State, be merely nominal, and they are only imposed at all 
because, when the land is in private ownership, such rentals 
belong to the owner, and must be distinguished from the 
mineral lease. 

Penal rents may be imposed by ordinance for failure to 
carry out covenanted improvements or obUgations within the 
specified time. Eeduced or even pepper-corn rents may be 
charged it the land is required for a purpose conducive to the 
public welfare, such as sites for schools and hospitals, or for 
reUgious purposes or pubUc recreation. 


The system of auction is the best method of securing strict 
impariiiality in the disposal of land. The auction may be 
held either on the land or at any other place convenient to 
bidders. A bid may be made by letter, and annoimced at 
the auction. The public notice (in consecutive gazettes and 
otherwise) should give the fuUest particulars, with ample 
time for inspection of plans and inquiry, and bidding should 
be on the upset price (premium), and not on the rental. In 
default of competition, the lot goes to the original appUcant 
on the reserve terms previously agreed. 

The amount which an appUcant declares himself wiUing to 
expend on improvements, and their permanency, is an impor- 
tant factor in deciding the terms of a lease. They are defined 
as " anything or any quahty permanently attached to the 
land, directly resulting from the expenditure of capital and 
labour," and include buildings, fixed machinery, plantations 
of long-lived crops or trees, fenckig, wells, roads, clearing for 
agriculture, irrigation or reclamation works, and even better- 
ment of the soU which is not the result of ordinary cultivation. 
Improvements of which the cost has been deducted from the 
premium or rental belong of course to the lessor, but all other 
improvements remain the absolute property of the lessee. 
They only revert to Government (in the case of Crown lands) 
if the occupier vacates his lease at his own wish, or if his title 
has been revoked for good cause — e.g., breach of covenant, 
&c. — or finally, in the case of the expiration of a terminable 
lease. The object of requiring " improvements " as a condi- 
tion of the covenant is in order to prevent speculators buying 
up land, and leaving it imdeveloped till an opportunity of 
selling at a profit should occur. 

Surrender of a lease, though permissible, is usually subject 
to a statutory fine to prevent applications for land which the 
applicant has no intention of keeping. It may, of course, be 
reduced or remitted. The land must be left in good condi- 
tion, and no permanent fixtures attached to the soil may be 

It is obvious that the length of a lease, the rent, premimn, 
revision period, and value of improvements to be eifected, are 
all interdependent, and must be considered in their mutual 
relations when advertising the conditions upon which a piece 
of land shall be put to auction. The applicant has to state, 
on the form of application, the value of the improvements 


he is prepared to effect, and the length of the lease would 
largely depend on the amount of this capital expenditure, 
whether in the form of permanent buildings on a building 
site, or of extensive plantations and machinery on an agri- 
cultural site, or of water-supply, irrigation, and importation 
of stock on a grazing lease. ISTo definite scale can be laid 
down, for the situation of the site has an important bearing 
on the question. Whether the land is let on a " long-term " 
or a " short-term " lease depends, therefore, chiefly on the 
value of " improvements." 

Compensation for imexhausted improvements, the property 
of the lessee, must be paid in full if the land is taken by 
Government for any purpose, but not if the lessee surrenders 
for either of the three reasons named. It would, however, 
be open to Government to refund to him any part of the value 
of Ms improvements which might seem just. If the land 
with its unexhausted improvements is re-leased, the value of 
these should be kept distinct from the ground rent, and added 
to the premium. The Government manifestly cannot be ex- 
pected to pay for the whole of the unexhausted improvements, 
whenever an occupier may choose to suirender on revision of 
rental, however just the revision might be, and even if it 
were below the proper rental value. An unlimited Uability 
would thus be imposed on the Government, which, if there 
were valuable buildings or plantations on the land, might 
amount to a large sum, while Government could be saddled 
at the caprice of the holder with an estate which it did not 
require, and of which it might be unable to dispose. Com- 
pensation is, of course, due for any damage caused by pubUc 
works on leased land, and if more than 4 per cent of an agri- 
cultural lease is taken, compensation should also be given 
for the land itself. Full compensation must of course be paid 
to natives for any crops or dwellings, and also for disturbance 
if the land is leased to a non-native or acquired by Govern- 

Some of these principles, as might be expected, are by no 
means concurred in by those who have embarked their capital 
in the development of purely tropical lands in Africa. The 
Englishman is accustomed to freehold and to long leases on 
fixed rentals, and such conditions best suit his interests. It 
is the object of British poUcy to promote those interests by 
every legitimate means, while safeguarding the revenue of the 


futuie, and the interests alike of posterity and of the native 
populations. Its task is to distribute the burden of the 
contribution to public revenue equally between all. The 
object of the methods proposed is ia brief to ensure that the 
native shall hold his land rent-free ia perpetuity, paying a 
tax assessed yearly on its usufruct, while the non-native, 
who occupies lands whose value is rapidly increasing, has a 
terminable lease, with rent periodically revised. 

The Liverpool Chamber of Commerce commimicated their 
views to the West African Lands Committee in a series of 
resolutions.! They consider that if, as Sir H. Belfield states, 
the population is sparse and not increasing, it would be a 
mistake inimical to development to recognise the inalienable 
right of natives to the whole of the available land ; " that 
where the lessee can prove an expenditure of, say, £500 per 
acre upon buildings or other permanent works, he shall be 
entitled to purchase the freehold of the land on specified 
terms," which the Chamber suggests should be ten years' 
rental ; that on the expiry of a lease, failing renewal on accept- 
able terms, the lessee be compensated for all improvements, 
the amount being settled if necessary by arbitration ; that 
the rent of an agricultural lease should be commutable " for 
a period not exceeding twenty years by paying a lump simi 
under discount at 5 per cent per annum " ; that mining leases 
should include such superficial rights as would enable the 
lessee to sublet sites for dwellings for employees, and those 
who cater for them ; that agricultural leases should not be 
limited to ninety -nine years ; that no export duties on the 
produce of European estates (or otherwise) should be im- 
posed ; that the transfer of individual rights in land should 
be facilitated, and no distinction made between foreign or 
native individual owners ; and finally, that neglect to utilise 
a mining or agricrdtural lease for two years should render it 
liable to forfeiture. 

In a later Memorandam the merchants recognised the claim 
of Government to the unearned increment on land, and did 
not criticise the system of rent revision " if ioaposed in an 
equitable manner, and upon a settled basis." They ask for 
" trading and residential " leases of not less than ninety -nine 
years, with revision at twenty-one years — existing leases being 
converted if desired ; that at the last revision the lessee should 

1 Published in the report of the Chamber of Commerce. 


have an option of renewal to be exercised within five years 
of the expiry of a lease ; that auction should be abolished, 
and that palm-oU plantation leases should be not less than 
ten square nules. Eemaining stipulations are practically as 
already discussed. 

Wben land (other than that in a township) at the dis- 
posal of Government is demanded on lease for any purpose, it 
devolves on the District StafE to make the fuUest inquiries 
as to whether the grant will interfere with native rights of 
cultivation, grazing, or forestry, and how such rights can 
best be equitably adjusted — whether by the grant of equiva- 
lent land elsewhere, and by compensation for crops and dis- 
turbance or otherwise, or whether the grant should be cur- 
tailed or abandoned, and in the case of surface rights for 
mining, the minimum which is necessary. The District Officer 
informs the apphcant of his intended recommendations as to 
the lease conditions. These data are carefuUy considered by 
Government before the lease is granted. To avoid delay and 
inconvenience, it is desirable that Government should permit 
occupation prior to survey and the completion of the lease, 
when the terms have been satisfactorily settled. Short-term 
leases — ^for five years or less — ^renewable from year to year, 
without compensation for improvements, may be granted 
when desirable — e.g., for land which will later be required for 
a pubUc purpose, or where the lessee does not wish to commit 
himself to a long lease. In the case of native-owned lands, 
the District Officer ascertains whether the proposed lease is 
by a tribal authority or by an individual, and in the latter 
case whether he has a title to the land, and he reports whether 
the proposed terms are in his opinion equitable to the owner. 

Missions in Uganda occupy a specially privileged position, 
and 77,500 acres were assigned to them as freehold in the 1900 
treaty. An alien mission is, of course, " non-native," and as 
such would be bound to obtain the Governor's sanction for 
the acquisition of land — though if the land is at the disposal 
of Government the grant might be made rent-free or on 
special terms. Like any other application, it woidd be in- 
vestigated by the District Officer, and in particular he would 
ascertain whether the people were desirous of the establish- 
ment of a mission among them or hostile to it. 

It may sometimes happen that a party of converts, with or 
without the consent of their chief, may erect a church and 


other buildiags, with a residence for any missionary who 
comes to visit them, towards the cost of which they may or 
may not have received help from mission funds. The mission 
body disclaims any rights in the land or bnilditigs (though they 
may have an indirect interest ia them), and the transfer is 
not therefore cognisable as a transfer to a non-native. It is 
advisable that the Government, in the interests of peace and 
good order, should be cognisant of such matters, and this 
would be impressed upon both the missions and the people. 

All transactions regarding land which are in writing should 
be registered withia a prescribed time, and if not registered 
should be void, and not admissible in evidence. Boundary 
settlements made by District Officers, and approved by 
the Governor, should be endorsed by the chiefs and registered. 
A record should also be kept in the provincial office. An 
entry ia the register, properly authenticated, should be a 
guarantee of title against the world, and to effect this verbal 
transactions must be held to be iavaUd by the courts, unless 
reduced to writing and registered. Individual owners ia 
districts not declared to be under English land law (p. 306) 
should recite the grounds of their claim to title. Mortgages 
on land, and on permanent crops, should be included ia the 
definition of " transactions ia land." 

The position ia regard to land in Southern Ehodesia (though 
outside the tropics) is particularly worth notiag, siace it has 
been the subject of an important judgment of the Privy 
CouncU. The Chairman of the Chartered Company explained 
that there were four claims : ^ (1) The white settlers claimed 
that the Chartered Company held the land only as adminis- 
tering it for their benefit. (2) It was claimed on behalf of the 
natives that the land was theirs. (3) The Colonial Office 
claimed the land as belongiag to the Crown. (4) The 
Chartered Company claimed the land as their property. The 
Privy CouncU found that the Company, acting on behalf of the 
Crown, conquered the country, and the Crown thus became 
possessed of the land by right of conquest ; that it had not 
by any formal act transferred its rights to the Company, 
which rightly disposed of the land as its agent, but the Crown 

^ See report of 22nd meeting, August 1918, and note on page 24. The 
judgment did not apply to Northern Rhodesia, and since no claim there could 
he hased on right of conquest, Lord Buxton's Committee recommended a new 
reference.— Cmd. 1471/1921. 


was liable for all necessary administrative expenditure, less 
the receipts from the land. The Privy Council did not appa- 
rently consider that the natives had any private or communal 
rights which the Crown, though conqueror, was bound to 
respect — other than the assignment to them of adequate 

It may be of interest to add a few comments regarding the 
systems adopted in some other British colonies and depend- 
encies outside Africa. 

In India the Government claims a portion of the unearned 
increment when the enhanced value of the land is due to State 
expenditure. Sir T. Morison writes : " It is useless to dis- 
cuss nationalisation of land, since the Indian Government 
has definitely repudiated such a conception of its rights in 
land. . . . The British Government has everywhere con- 
ferred or recognised a private right in land, . . . and in large 
areas has expressly declared the rights of landlord and village 
owners, . . . the economic doctrine has never been applied to 
the ownership of land in India." He adds in a later passage : 
" The general conclusion is that the Indian system of land 
tenure is something intermediate between complete nationah- 
sation of land and absolute private property in land. To the 
extent of a half the State is able to appropriate that increased 
increment which is due to the development of the country." ^ 

Individual ownership is safeguarded by legislation designed 
to prevent the transfer of land from the peasant proprietor 
to the money-lender — a process which at one time was rapidly 
taking place. 

In Upper Burmah, after the British annexation, nothing 
was said in the regulations about defining the nature and 
extent of rights in land, but a " record of rights " was insti- 
tuted, in which the facts as they came to Ught were simply 
stated, with all changes in ownership, &c. Practically every 
one, though not legally defined as " occupant " or " owner," 
had the enjoyment of his land on showing his possession and 
right thereto, provided the land was not State or Eoyal land. 
Eoyal lands were separately and carefully defined. About 
three years later a rough-and-ready assessmient was made.^ 

' Loc. cit, pp. 21, 22, and 39. See also Baden-Powell, 'Land Systems of 
British India,' and ' Village Communities of India ' ; also N. B. Baillie, ' The 
Land-tax of India.' 

2 Sir E. P. Qirouard in Od. 5103 of 1910, p. 47. 


In the West Indies the policy of small holdiags has been 
pursued. A Eoyal Commission in 1897 recommended the 
purchase (compulsory, if necessary) of areas held by large 
proprietors, with a view to their conversion into small holdings 
of about five acres each, and this proposal was adopted. 

In Malaya practically all the land was the property of 
the Government, and it took some time, says Sir F. Swetten- 
ham, to convince the Malays of the desirabihty of obtaining a 
clear title in. return for a low rental. Leases were issued 
for 999 years or in perpetuity. When Federation of the 
States was accomplished a uniEorm land code was adopted. 
Prior to this the land laws had differed widely.^ 

In Fiji, by the deed of cession, aU land not at the time 
already alienated to foreigners, or actually being used, or 
probably required for use of the natives, was vested in the 
Crown, but in practice the Crown's rights were ignored, and 
the proceeds of sales were credited to the natives, so that 
the Crown is now without land. 

In Hong-Kong the land vested in the Crown, and up to 
1848 building sites, were leased without premium on seventy- 
five year terms — other leases were for twenty-one years. 
999 year leases, with premium, were granted till 1885, when 
the older term was again adopted, and in 1898 these were 
made renewable for a second seventy-five years, with revision 
of rentals. In the Kew Territories all titles held imder Chinese 
law were recognised, and in a total area of 40,000 acres over 
20,000 certificates were issued, in addition to the mortgages 
registered. As on the island, aU land vested in the Crown, 
if not held by individual title. Compensation for resumption 
of cultivated land is put at thirty-three times the annual 

Space does not admit of a lengthy examination of the 
way in which " the land question " has been handled by other 
nations in tropical Africa and elsewhere. We have seen that 
M. Delafosse agrees with our own authorities in regard to the 
principles which underlie the native system of land tenure 
in West Africa, but that the French nevertheless believe that 
individual ownership is incontestably the most favourable to 
production. This view is enforced throughout his volumes by 
the great French writer on Colonial Economics, Mons. P. 
Leroy Beaulieu. 

1 'Malaya,' p. 236. See also Straits Annual Eeport, 1910, Cd. 5389. 


As regards Portuguese possessions, a Lisbon decree some 
years ago was designed to promote free native holdings on 
vacant lands. No rent is charged for five years, and after 
twenty years a freehold is granted. Two-thirds must be 
cultivated, and the title is inalienable. Holders are exempt 
from forced labour of any Mnd, and from service in the 
police or military forces. Lisbon decrees are, however, not 
always operative in the colonies.^ 

The former system iu the Congo State apparently not 
only denied any rights in land to the natives, but in the 
domains privies, which are said to have included nine-tenths 
of the area, they were forbidden to coUect ivory and rubber 
except for sale to the Government. Purchasers of such 
produce were accounted to be receivers of stolen goods. This 
system has happily been replaced by a juster and more liberal 

Mr Ireland tells us that all land in Java, other than the 
comparatively small area sold outright to Europeans and 
Chinese in the early days, is the property of the State, but 
free play is allowed for the operation of native customs, with 
the result that all agricultural land (with the exceptions 
noted) is held la hereditary leasehold tenure by individuals, 
or iu communal holdings. The assessment of the land-tax 
foUows the methods adopted in British India. Natives may 
sell their tenure rights to one another, but the sale to a 
European or to a foreign Asiatic is absolutely prohibited. 
This has been completely successful (he says) in protecting the 
native from the loss of his vested interest in the land, but 
it is generally felt that the Government has gone too far in 
its desire to protect the native, and has thereby retarded the 
development of the land.^ 

In the Philippines the United States, by the treaty with 
Spain, had become possessed of the public lands. With the 
exception of those reserved for miMtary or Government pur- 
poses, these were placed \mder the control of the local Govern- 
ment, to be administered for the benefit of the people. " The 
sale of public lands was so carefully hedged about with restric- 
tions that the development of the country has been retarded. 
In order to develop a class of small landowners, the sales of 

1 Described by Mr J. H. Harris in 'The African Mail,' 9th August 1912. 
^ 'The Far Eastern Tropics.' Alleyne Ireland, p. 182. See also 'Java, or 
How to Manage a Colony,' Money. 


public lands were limited to 40 acres to one person, and 
2500 acres to a Corporation." 406,730 acres were held by 
the Friars, and leased on three-year terms, generally renewed. 
The Government acquired these lands.^ 

In China the original right to all land vests in the State, 
and titles may be acquired by individuals, by reclaiming 
waste land (by permit), and on payment of the tax. Waste 
is not subject to tax, and cannot be owned by an individual. 
When reclaimed it is assessed for tax according to quality. 
AH titles are entered in the Tsilc (' Domesday Book ') and Tsah 
(rent-roll). The last assessment was ta 1771. There can 
be no title without payment of tax, and a penalty is imposed 
for using land which is not registered. 

If in this chapter I have, on the one hand, appeared to go 
into unnecessary detail, and, on the other hand, to enunciate 
well-understood principles as though they were something 
new, my apology is that though the conditions of land tenure 
and transfer do not differ very materially in different parts 
of Africa, there has, as we have seen, been but little uni- 
formity of principle in the treatment of the question, and 
it may be useful alike for the young administrator, and for 
the applicant for land, to have before them a brief summary 
of the principles on which, as I have ventured to suggest, 
the acquisition of land, rents, compensation, premia, &c., 
should be based. 


The Parliamentary Paper already quoted purported to 
render a return showing the ownership of minerals in the 
Crown colonies and protectorates.^ From this it appears 
that the ownership of all minerals is unreservedly vested in 
the Crowa in East Africa, Uganda,* Mgeria (in the south since 
1916), Malaya, Trinidad and Tobago (since 1902), and British 
Honduras. The statement is not very clear as regards the 
remaining colonies, but apparently ownership of minerals is 

1 ' The Philippines,' Elliott, vol. ii. p. 68. 

2 Parliamentary Paper 68 of March 1912. 

' The Governor, in a public paper, states that "the holders of land in the 
kingdom of Uganda have the right to minerals found on their estates, subject to 
the payment of a royalty (10 per cent). Elsewhere in the protectorate minerals 
belong to Government." See also Sir R. Coryndon in 'United Empire,' June 
1920, p. 300. 


claimed by Government in all controlled lands (which in 
Nyasaland and British Gtiiana are practically synonymous 
with the whole country), and aU rights in minerals are re- 
served ia leases of Crown lands. 

The ownership of all minerals is claimed by France in her 
African colonies, and by the United States in the Philippines.* 
" The formal claim of the State to ... all unworked minerals 
may be readily conceded by both international and mimicipal 
law," writes Professor Keith. ^ The reservation of the right 
of the natives to work any minerals which are necessary for 
their own industries or requirements — e.g., iron, salt, &c. — ^is 
eminently just, and should always be conceded.^ 

In countries which are not highly industrialised, the bulk 
of the minerals are worked for export, and not for local manu- 
facture, and the royalty imposed by Government is in fact 
an export duty, which the Government has an unquestioned 
right to levy for revenue purposes. The claim of ownership 
therefore means in effect that the right to grant licences for 
the working of minerals, not required by the natives for their 
own use, is vested ia the Government, and that the owner 
of the surface rights in the land may not impose any additional 
royalties in situ. 

The claim of Government to imworked minerals does not 
deprive the natives of any customary rights or profits. Their 
discovery is generally due to the technical knowledge of aUen 
prospectors, and the possibility of their exploitation usually 
depends on the scientific methods, and the use of the machinery 
imported by Europeans . In those countries , therefore, in which 
the Government exercises the right to dispose of vacant lands 
and of mineral rights to aliens, it secures two important 
sources of revenue, to defray the cost of administration and 
development, without encroaching on the customary rights 
or requirements of the people. The revenue thus reahsed is 
expended whoUy on the country to the benefit of its inhabit- 
ants, and diminishes fro tanto the amount it is necessary to 
raise by taxation for this purpose. 

On the other hand, the Government is better able to take 
measures — ^impossible to a native grantor — ^to exclude those 

> 'The Philippines,' Elliott, vol. ii. p. 69. 
^ 'Journal of African Society,' July 1918. 

' In Nigeria tin had been worked in small quantities for ornaments or barter, 
and the small group of villages engaged in this industry were compensated. 


concession-lmnters who desire to obtain a title merely for 
manipulation in the money market, and to ensure that the 
interests of the bona fide miner are, as far as possible, identical 
with those of the country in which his profits are made. These 
objects can best be effected, inter alia, by requiring a guarantee 
that the grantee, or his assignee, has adequate capital for 
his enterprise, and by insisting on an annual miaimum of 
development work, so that mineral resources may not be locked 
up for speculative reasons. 

Government control should also result in the elimination 
of much litigation, due to overlapping or to badly-drafted 
concessions. The Ucensee is relieved of the initial purchase 
price of his concession, and his working capital is thus in- 
creased. He can therefore afford to pay a somewhat larger 
share of his profits by way of rents and royalties — a system 
more advantageous alike to the industry and to the country, 
which thus retains a direct interest in mineral development. 
The position of the grantee is more secure when he has to deal 
with Government alone, and enterprise is thus attracted, while 
Government is less hampered in securing adequate develop- 
ment and the best conditions for labourers. 

Minerals, as I have already remarked, are a part of the 
capital wealth of a country, not perennially renewed like its 
vegetable products, and their development should afford a 
means for creating other assets of permanent utUity, such as 
railways, harbours, irrigation works, &c., which shall continue 
to benefit the country when the minerals are exhausted. 

Viewed from this standpoint, it seems a short-sighted, even 
if it is a justifiable policy, for the Suzerain Power to barter 
these assets, as was done in the case of the transfer of the 
Mger Chartered Company's territory to the Crown.^ The 
Company, which claimed to have secured mineral rights by 
treaty from native chiefs, was entirely justified in making 
the best bargain it could for its shareholders, and no one will 

1 Parliamentary Papers, C. 9372 of 1899, 39 of August 1900, and 304 of 
February 1901. Within a defined area embracing the greater part of Northern 
Nigeria, whether covered by the Company's treaties or not, the Government 
undertook to impose such royalty on all minerals exported from a British port, 
or passing through a British Customs House, as may be compatible with the 
development of the industry, and to institute no specific taxation on the mining 
industry as such, which would prevent its imposition. The Company and its 
assigns were to receive half the royalty for ninety-nine years. As the price of 
its land and mining rights in the remainder of its territory a sum of £150,000 
was paid. 


be foimd to grudge to these patriotic pioneers the fullest 
recompense for their efforts. But one wonders how many 
of them have benefited from the prosperity of the mining 
industry in Mgeria. Shares have changed hands, but the 
onus on the industry, and on the revenues of Mgeria — ^upon 
which falls the whole cost of the Mines Department, survey, 
collection of royalties and rents, &c. — remains. It is to be 
regretted that a money payment, as in the case of the com- 
mercial lands, was not made, even if it had remained a charge 
on the revenues of the country.^ 

Where native ownership of minerals worked for export is 
recognised, the monies received for the concession, rents, &c., 
are, like the rents of tribal lands, the property of the com- 
mimity, and should be expended for the common benefit — 
viz., paid into the native administration treasury or commimal 
fuQd, and not used (as it appears that they often are) as 
the private perquisite of the chiefs. If the land has changed 
from tribal to individual tenure, the ownership of minerals 
requires elucidation. They should, I think, be vested in the 
Government on behalf of the whole community. 

The terms upon which prospecting rights and mining leases 
may be granted must obviously vary according to the miaeral 
sought, and the form in which it occurs. The task of the 
administrator of a colony when drafting legislation on this 
complicated subject has been Ughtened by the recent pubUca- 
tion of the mining laws of the different parts of the Empire 
in a compendious form. The conditions, for instance, which 
affect the wiiming of gold when found in quartz rock lying 
perhaps at considerable depths below the surface, and those 
affecting aUuvial or placer deposits, must differ essentially, 
and the mining law must deal fuUy and separately with each 
class. I do not propose to do more than make a few general 
notes on this subject here. 

The function of the Government is, on the one hand, to 
facilitate in every possible way the enterprise of the pros- 
pector and miner, and, on the other hand, to protect the 
native occupier of the land from injury resulting from mining 
operations, and to ensure fair treatment and reasonable 
comfort for the native labourer. 

The exploitation of the mineral resources of a country 

' The annual payment to the Niger Company amounted to some £70,000 
in 1917, and is steadily increasing. 


can best be promoted in the first instance by a comprehen- 
sive geological survey, such as is now being undertaken by 
most of the Governments of the Crown colonies. When 
minerals have been found, the first demand of the industry 
is for a clear and understandable mining law and regulations, 
and expert Departments of Mines and Surveys, which shall 
deal rapidly with claims, and surveys of leases, &c. Means 
of access by railway, to facilitate the import of machtaery 
and supplies, and where necessary, the export of ore, is essen- 
tial to development. All these things take some time to 
provide, especially if the revenues of the country are smaU, 
and delays are apt to give rise to acrid criticism, however 
anxious the Government may be to assist. 

On the other hand, it devolves upon the Government to 
protect the interests of the natives, more especially in alluvial 
or open-cast workings, where surface rights, including the 
acquisition of land, and interference with water-courses and 
the supply of water for the agricultural and domestic needs of 
the natives, are involved. Nor can the duty of protecting 
the country from deforestation be neglected. There is a 
natural tendency to denude the country of timber for pit- 
props and fuel, which, while affording only a temporary advan- 
tage to the industry, inflicts a permanent injury on the country, 
as may be seen in the mining districts of South Africa. 

General prospecting licences are usually granted for a year 
at a time, for a small fee, and unrestricted in area. They 
should, in my opinion, convey no important rights, such as 
cutting of timber, damming of streams, &c., and are more in 
the nature of a registration fee than a payment for special 
privileges. Exclusive prospective licences, on the other hand, 
convey definite rights, for which a corresponding payment 
can be demanded. No other person may prospect the area 
simultaneously, and the prospector has the right to acquire 
one or more mining leases in the area included in his exclu- 
sive licence. He may cut timber, and use water under con- 
ditions, and on compensation to natives for injury. These 
licences should be very limited in area and in time, ia order 
to avoid locking up the country to the exclusion of other 
enterprise. An exclusive prospecting Ucence should not be 
transferable without permission, and this should be clearly 
endorsed upon it to prevent its beiag used for purposes of 


MiniTi g leases for alluvial and open-cast workings should 
not exceed one square mUe.^ The term might be fifty years, 
and the rent need not be high, for the industry is taxed by 
royalties. Premia are unnecessary. Eoyalties on metals, 
whose price is constantly varying, can best be fixed by a 
shding scale, framed on the value in the London market. 
In the facilities granted for prospecting and mining there 
should, of course, be no discrimination between natives and 
non-natives. Minerals such as gold and tin, which by erosion 
have been detached from their matrix and carried down by 
streams — ^faUing by their weight to the stream-bed — are 
naturally sought for in streams, and in the beds of former 
streams. The winning of these minerals in such circum- 
stances must involve interference with water-courses, and 
necessitates the use of water for washing the soil containing 
the ore. Special care is therefore needed to safeguard the 
native rights in the water-supply and in the disposal of tail- 
ings. To facilitate the exploitation of ground not rich in ore, 
and to assist the operations of the miner with small capital, 
" mining rights " as opposed to " mining leases " are granted 
in Mgeria. These are tenable for a year — ^renewable from year 
to year — and convey certain privileges as regards wood and 

There is no temptation to Colonial Governments to inter- 
fere with private enterprise by creating monopolies in the 
working of minerals other than coal and oil. A temporary 
monopoly in the working of a coalfield may not only be 
justified but highly expedient, in order to prove the extent 
and quaUty of the seams, and to enable the Government to 
form a reUable estimate of the cost of winning, and the value 
of the coal at pit's mouth or delivered at the coast, with a 
view to determining what royalty the industry can bear, 
and what would be a fair price to fix for supphes needed by 

It will, moreover, be more than probable that a railway 
must be built to the coalfield, and since (for reasons I shall 
discuss in the chapter on Transport) it is advisable that all 
railways should be built and operated by the Colonial Govern- 
ment, it becomes essential that the Government should have 
the best possible independent technical advice as to the 

' Sir F. Fuller mentions that the Ashanti Gold Fields Syndicate were granted 
mineral and other rights over 100 square miles. — Loc. cit., p. 227. 


value of the field before committing itself to the cost of 
railway construction. The scheme of development of a coal- 
field is a highly technical matter, depending on geological 
and other conditions, and ia order to avoid wasteful methods 
it is necessary that Government should be iu full possession 
of all data regarding the deposits before leasiag the whole 
or any portion to a company, so that the conditions of devel- 
opment may be carefully prescribed.^ 

Initial investigation would cost a considerable sum of 
money, and delay must be iacurred before the railway facilities 
can be created. A private company would demand very liberal 
terms to induce it to accept these risks and delays, and the 
lease would therefore necessarily be of a highly speculative 
nature. In these circumstances it cannot, I think, be dis- 
puted that an enterprise so vital to the future of the country, 
and involving railway and probably harbour construction, 
should be initiated by the Government. When the industry 
has been proved, the Goverimient can, if it desires, reserve a 
portion of the field for its own railway and steamship require- 
ments, and lease the remainder to private companies. Its 
expert staff on the spot wiU then be able to carry out the 
periodical inspection necessary to see that the lease conditions 
of development are being fulfilled. 

Boring for oil olfers no obstacle to private enterprise, since 
the oil if found can be piped without railway connection. If 
the geological investigations conducted by Government have 
afforded indications, correspondingly favourable terms can 
be demanded from the lessee. The Men on the supply for the 
needs of the Imperial Navy, to which I have elsewhere re- 
ferred, is justified by the dependence of the colony on the 
Navy for its defence. 

^ This is the policy which has been followed in regard to the Enugu coalfield in 
Nigeria. Germany, by a decree of 4th December 1901, reserTcd any coal found 
on north-west of Nyasa as a Government monopoly. 




The origin of slavery — Effects of slavery — Growth of opinion adverse to 
slavery — The position in East Africa — The nature of Central African 
slave-trade — Realisation by Europe of the real facts — Effect of the 
scramble for Africa — The Brussels Act — Suppression by force — 
Slavery as an administrative problem — Tribal slavery, or aUen 
masters — Predial and domestic slaves — Moslem slave-law — Evils of 
slavery and extenuations — Internal slavery in Africa — Slavery in 
protected Moslem States — Compensation and alternatives — Mean- 
ing of the abolition of the " legal status " — Results of abolition of 
legal status — Its application at Zanzibar. 

Op all African problems there is none more engrossing than 
that of slavery, and as to assist in its solution has been the 
consistent object of my efforts since I first entered tropical 
Africa in 1888, 1 will ask indulgence if in discussing it I digress 
somewhat beyond the strict hmits of present-day adminis- 
trative problems. 

Though the iastitution of slavery appears to be as old as 
the records of the human race,^ and exists to-day in China ^ 
and m Moslem countries, it is from Africa alone that large 
sections of the popidation have, in at aU recent times, been 

^ For an exhaustive historical review of the subject, reference may be made 
to Dr Ingram's learned article in the 'Encyclopaedia Britannica,' 9th edition, 
vol. xxii. pp. 129-144. It may be noted that "slave-holding and its ally polygamy " 
have exhibited a tendency to flourish in the tropics rather than in the temperate 
zones. In the latter, the transition to serfs or villeins — adscripti glebce — and 
from serfdom to a free peasantry has generally been a normal process not 
unduly prolonged. Adam Smith points out that the transition from the serf 
to the freeman is encouraged by the sovereign, who grows fearful of the power 
of his feudal retainers and their armies of serfs. — Book iii. chap. 2. 

2 Slavery in China assumes a mild form. Sale of the freeborn is illegal 
though common. Girls are bought, often as infants, and become household 
drudges until marriage, when they are free. Slaves are recruited chiefly by 
the sale of themselves or their children by a starving peasantry in time of 
famine or inundation. See Dyer Ball, 'Things Chinese,' pp. 623-628. 


deported for use as slaves overseas. ^ The institution, though 
fundamentally opposed to the principles of Christian ethics, 
was not specifically condemned by St Paul, who even directed 
the rendition of a fugitive slave,^ probably because in his day 
it had become so iategral a part of the social system that to 
have condemned it would have conflicted with his teaching 
of obedience to constituted authority ; but the influence of 
the Church has been opposed to it from the earliest times. 

The incorporation in the tribe of the captives of war as 
slaves is indeed regarded by Dr Ingram as a " universal and 
inevitable accompaniment " of the stage of human evolution 
when sedentary habits replaced nomadic tendencies ; and 
siQce it taught the necessity for continuous labour, he char- 
acterises it — as did Zebehr Pasha — as " a necessary step in 
social progress," supersediag the earher law of massacre and 

But however inevitable in the earliest stages of develop- 
ment the institution of slavery may be, its moral results are 
undeniably disastrous. To the slave-owners the exercise of 
despotic power, without external check, ia all the relations of 
daily Ufe is demoralising. Self-control is weakened, sus- 
ceptibility to flattery, harshness or even cruelty, as well as 
immorality, are encouraged, and indolence, with a contempt 
for industry, becomes natural. 

To the slave the efiEect is hardly less demoralising. He 
is deprived of the dignity of manhood. He is without re- 
sponsibility and without incentive to work other than the 
fear of punishment. His status approximates to that of his 
master's cattle.* 

' Calculations of the number of human beings killed or enslaved are purely 
guesswork. Pruen ('The Arab and African,' p. 224) estimates that fully 
100,000 reached the East Coast yearly, and Livingstone and others considered 
that at least 10 are killed or left to starve for each one who arrives. This 
gives 1,000,000 per annum for the East Coast alone — a figure which may pre- 
sumably be at least doubled for the rest of Africa. This has been going 
on for centuries ! 

2 Philemon 10 and 16. 

' So also Congreve, commenting on the passage of ' Aristotle ' quoted in the 
next paragraph, ' ' the human rival is the food of his conqueror. The first step 
out of this state of things is taken when the prisoners are not sacrificed and 
eaten, but kept and made useful." 

■• See Ingram, loc. cit. Also Clarke, ' Lavigerie and Slavery,' p. 248. The 
slave laws of various countries have a striking similarity to each other. The 
Moslem law varies little from that of the Hebrews described in Deuteronomy, 
or of Rome, or that of the Anglo-Saxons. — (See Green's ' History of the English 
People,' Colonial Press Edition, p. 18, and Buckland, ' The Roman Law of 


" Certain peoples," says Aristotle, " are naturally free, 
others are naturally slaves. For these latter slavery is both 
just and expedient," and the same view has been held by 
able and influential men of our own day. To the African, 
they argue, owing to his lack of prevision and self-control, 
such a state of dependence is not altogether distasteful, and 
philanthropic effort can best be directed towards regulating 
the conditions of slavery as a recognised institution.'^ But 
they overlook two vital facts — ^first, that the history of slavery 
in aU countries shows that the system cannot be maintained 
without constant recruitment, involving aU the horrors of 
slave-raids, or of kidnapping and purchase, with depopulation 
of the country, decrease in its productivity, and stagnation 
in its development ; ^ and secondly, that by perpetuating 
the institution of slavery the African is denied the oppor- 
tunity of rising to a higher plane of individual and corporate 
responsibility and progress in social life. 

The intellectual and moral progress of Europe and America 
had, at the beginning of the last century, led their people to 
condemn the overseas export of slaves from Africa,^ which 
had been inaugurated by Portugal in 1442, but it was not 
till the middle of the nineteenth century that the majority 
of the nations abolished the system of employing slave labour.* 

Slavery. ') The alave may not give evidence in court. His master is responsible 
for his crimes. Wrongs to him are regarded as wrongs to his master, who has 
absolute power over him. These laws were modified by the ''jus naiurale" in 
Rome, and by the growth of a more liberal practice in other countries, as the 
predial slave passed to the status of a serf, and the domestic slave became 
included in the family. 

1 The notorious German, Dr Karl Peters, is reported to have proposed that a 
"fair arrangement" would be that the natives should be hired out by the State 
to work for eleven hours a day from the age of twenty to thirty-five years. The 
African, he contends, does not understand freedom, and "such a system would 
form a convenient half-way house between slavery and the European system of 
free labour — the result of centuries." Herr Zimmermann's policy difiers only in 
degree {loc. cit., pp. 39-45). English apologists for slavery, needless to say, do not 
advocate such methods. 

^ The writings of all African explorers are full of evidence of the ruthless 
destruction of life and the human misery caused by slave-raids, and of the ap- 
palling cruelties of the march to the coast. A resume of the evidence may be 
found in Rev. R. Clarke's book, ' Cardinal Lavigerie and Slavery in Africa, ' pp. 254- 
287. For an account of the appalling devastation in the Sudan, where the popu- 
lation was reduced from 8 J millions to under 2 millions in a few years, see Foreign 
Office Handbook 98, p. 26, and the authorities there quoted. 

' Denmark led the way, 1802 ; England followed, 1806 ; America in 1808 ; the 
Dutch in 1814 ; Spain in 1820. The movement which led to these decisions had 
been growing both in England and America for 100 years previously. 

■* England emancipated her West Indian and other slaves in 1833 ; France in 
1848 ; Portugal in 1858 decreed emancipation without compensation in 20 years. 
America, Brazil, and Cuba alone remained. 


This was not effected in America till after the Civil War, while 
serfdom ia Russia was abolished the year before. 

There was naturally no sympathy with the movement for 
the abolition of slavery ia Moslem countries Uke Turkey, 
Arabia, and Zanzibar, where the institution was an integral 
part of the social system, sanctioned ahke by reUgion and 
by the civil law. 

Though the export of slaves from Africa to America had 
been prohibited, the traffic was so lucrative, so long as slave 
labour continued to be employed, that it lingered on as a 
smuggUng trade from the West Coast till late in the 'sixties. 
Great Britaia took steps to suppress it, and for this purpose 
formed settlements and forts at the Gold Coast, and in 1861 
acquired Lagos. With the cessation of the traflBc she pro- 
posed in 1868 to abandon them. From the Mediterranean 
ports (especially Benghazi), and from those on the East Coast, 
however, an active export was carried on to supply the re- 
quirements of Turkey, Arabia, and Persia, and also Mada- 

In the 'seventies Zanzibar was a powerful independent 
State, claiming an undefined sovereignty over the mainland 
of Eastern Africa as far as the Great Lakes. The Sultan and 
the ruling class were Arabs from Muscat in the Persian Gulf. 
The British Consul-General was Sir John Kirk, companion of 
Livingstone, and a man of very exceptional ability, who had 
acquired great influence over the Sultan. As early as 1873 
he had succeeded in inducing him to make a treaty declaring 
the export of slaves from the mainland illegal, and in 1876 
an edict was issued prohibiting their arrival at the coast from 
the interior. The edicts, however, remained a dead letter. 

For over half a century Great Britaia had maintained a 
squadron iu Bast African waters for the suppression of this 
trade. After the Sultan's edicts, H.M.S. London, especially 
equipped with a mosquito fleet, seized many dhows, which 
were condemned in the Consular Court. She was withdrawn 
in 1883, and two Vice-Consuls were appointed on the coast 
and one on Lake Nyasa. The latter, as I have said (p. 29), 
was without jurisdiction, and when he was seized by a 
slave-trading chief, stripped, and imprisoned, nothing was 

' There can, I fear, be little doubt that, unknown of course to Lisbon, the 
Portuguese in Africa, at least as late as 1888, continued to transport slaves from 
one of their possessions to another (nominally as deportees for some trivial 
offence) in order to recruit their local levies. — See ' Rise of East African Empire,' 
vol. i. p. 13. 


done. These operations had been costly both in lives and 
money/ and the result was whoUy inadequate. Of the thou- 
sands of slaves arriving at the coast, the Uganda railway 
survey report estimates that only about 120 per annum were 
rescued. The squadron, though a check on the sea-borne 
traflEic, was of course unable to touch the trade on the main- 
land, or even to control the transport of slaves thence to the 
islands, which continued to be abundantly supplied with 
slaves. 2 

The withdrawal of H.M.S. London was marked by a consider- 
able increase in the slave-trade, though British naval vessels 
continued to capture dhows. In 1885 the Berlin Act was 
signed, Turkey being a signatory Power. It stipulated that 
each of the Powers " binds itself to use all the means at its 
disposal to put an end to the slave-trade, and to punish 
those engaged in it." But the export by Arab dhows con- 
tinued ; and even when in 1889 a joint blockade of the coast 
was instituted by Great Britain and Germany, ostensibly 
to deprive the slave-traders of arms, but practically in order 
to withhold from the Arabs — with whom the Germans were at 
war — weapons with which to defend themselves, it was esti- 
mated that not 5 per cent of the slaves exported were rescued. 
These measures were moreover of little value to the slaves 
themselves, for it was impossible to repatriate them. 

The trade was carried on by the Arab, SwaheU,^ and Beluchi 
subjects of the Zanzibar Sultan. Many of these men had 
made very large profits by trading in ivory and slaves. With 
these they purchased weapons and armed their " Euga-ruga " 
— at first as elephant-hunters. Taking part in some tribal 
quarrel, and increasing their armed bands, they and their 
aUies soon became the dominant power, and could raid the 

' The cost was estimated by a writer in the ' Times ' at £200,000 per annum 
(29th August 1893). Consul O'Neill, formerly an ofiBcer of the London, con- 
sidered that not less than 5 millions had been spent in the last 50 years. — 
' The Mozambique and Nyassa Slave Trade,' p. 9. Mr Waller stated that between 
1880 and 1890 our crews had suffered 282 casualties, besides invalidings. — 'Ivory 
Apes and Peacocks,' p. 44. 

^ Africa, No. 6 of 1893, p. 1. These facts and figures are given at greater 
length in my book, ' The Rise of our East African Empire,' vol. i. chapters vii. 
and viii. The statements there made were either prompted or visM by Sir John 
Kirk, the highest authority on the subject, who for 20 years was Consul-Qeneral 
at Zanzibar, and later British plenipotentiary at the Brussels Conference. 

' Literally ' ' coast men, " some of them the offspring of Arabs and female 
slaves, others slaves from the interior who had become domiciled at the 


entire district for slaves. Many tribes had also become slave- 
raiders on behalf of the Arabs, and sold their captives to 

Many following in the path opened by Stanley and Cameron, 
Uke Tippoo Tib on the Congo, became powerful despots, prac- 
tically independent of Zanzibar. Their dhows sailed on all 
the Great Lakes. By the year 1888 they had grown to be 
the greatest militant power in the interior of the Continent. 
Already they had almost turned the shadowy claims of Zanzi- 
bar into an actual Moslem Empire, no longer controlled by 
the Sultan, whose influence had been weakened by the advent 
of the British and Germans at the coast. Throughout Central 
Africa they poisoned the minds of the natives by saying that 
Europeans were cannibals, &c. There is some evidence that 
they had formed a league. The loss of the KUe Sudan by the 
Mahdist rising had dealt a heavy blow to European prestige. 
On iNyasa alone, one of their most important raiding centres 
and routes, the slavers were opposed by a band of Scottish 
traders. They now threw off the pretence of friendship, and 
attacked the little garrison at Karongas, which held the gate.^ 

But England had at last reahsed the futUity of the attempt 
to suppress the slave traffic by chasing dhows at sea, and that 
if the evil which the Powers at Berlin had pledged themselves 
to check was to be suppressed, it must be dealt with at its 
source. While Emin on the Albert Lake, and the garrison at 
Karongas on Nyasa, were doing what they could with inade- 
quate resources on the spot. Cardinal Lavigerie began his 
crusade in Europe. He preached a " Holy War " against 
Moslem domination in Africa and the slave-trade — a " Conti- 
nental blockade," with a line of " anti-slavery stations sup- 
ported by gunboats on the Great Lakes, and a central force 
of 500 European crusaders." ^ Others, like Victor Hugo, advo- 
cated European settlements ; others again thought that the 
redemption of Africa must be by Africans, and looked to the 
return from America of a great body of emancipated negroes 
to liberate the country of their birth.^ 

' The story is told in my book, 'The Rise of our East African Empire,' 
vol. i. chapters iii., iv., and v. 

2 ' Lavigerie and the Slave Trade,' pp. 327, 343, &o. 

^ I prepared a scheme myself in much detail, supported by estimates framed 
with the advice of experts. Its basis was a well-armed and equipped native 
force located on the plateau between Lakes Nyasa and Tanganyika, with 
armed transport steamers — not gunboats — on both lakes, capable of transport- 


It was at this critical moment that the realisation by the 
industrial nations of Eiixope of the vast commercial resom'ces 
of Africa led to the competition for territorial sovereignty 
between Great Britain, Germany, and Prance to which I have 
already referred — a movement, no doubt, accelerated and 
strengthened by the powerful support of those who advocated 
the suppression of the slave-trade by force in the interior, 
and the defence of mission and trading stations. Events 
marched quickly. In^l889 Great Britain and Germany took 
over the Sultan's territories on the mainland, and the latter 
declared war against the Arabs. In 1890 Uganda made a 
treaty with the British Chartered Company, and the Mohame- 
dan party there was finally defeated. A British mission was 
sent to Nyasa, and shortly afterwards a protectorate was 
declared. The Congo State declared war on Tippoo Tib ; 
Prance annexed Madagascar — a great receiving depot for 
slaves from the mainland — and began her long campaign 
against the Mohamedans of ISTorth Africa. 

The days of the oversea slave-trade were numbered. The 
power of the great resident slavers in the interior was broken, 
but for the moment the organised Moslem despotisms on the 
Nile and in West Africa were too powerful to be affected by 
these measures, and they continued to raid and depopulate 
the countries over which they ruled. 

Already, in 1889, sixteen of the principal nations of the 
world had assembled at Brussels, and agreed to take common 
action for the suppression of the slave-trade. They declared 
" in the name of Almighty God " their " firm intention of 
putting an end to the crimes and devastations engendered by 
the traffic in African slaves." The Act was signed on 2nd 
July 1890, but was not finaUy ratified tiU April 1892.^ 

Its framers could not foresee the astonishing rapidity with 
which the effective occupation of tropical Africa was to 
proceed ; and though the opening words declared that " the 
most effective means for counteracting the slave-trade in the 

ing a striking force with its supplies, &c., to any point where a slave-caravan 
was heard of. I hoped eventually to control a line from the north of 
Tanganyika to the mouth of the Zambesi — 1100 miles — of which all but 200 
was waterway, and so occupy the line which Livingstone had said would cut 
the slave-trade in half. Mr Rhodes agreed to finance the project, but other 
events interfered. — See "Two Ends of a Slave-Stick," by Rev. H. Waller, in 
' Contemporary Review,' April 1889, 
1 C. 6048 of 1890. 


interior are progressive organisation of the administrative, 
judicial, religious, and mUitary services " of the Powers con- 
cerned, they proceeded to indicate, as a means to this end, 
the establishment of strongly-occupied stations, fortified posts 
on navigable waterways, expeditions and flying columns for 
repressive action, the use of cruisers on the great lakes, and 
stations of refuge, in addition to maritime suppression. More 
appropriate in the event were the recommendations to adopt 
administrative methods — such as the construction of roads, 
railways, and telegraphs, the use of steamers on navigable 
waters, and the encouragement of commerce and missions. 

But the most essential and operative clauses of the Act 
(Arts. 8 & 14) were those binding the signatories to prevent 
the import into Africa, except under strong guarantees, of 
all firearms and ammunition, other than flint-lock guns and 
trade powder, between lat. 20 N. and 22 S. Great Britain had 
been one of the principal importers of arms to Africa, but 
since the ratification of the Act she has been foremost in her 
efforts to observe its obligations. Articles 62 to 70 referred to 
countries which are the destination of slaves, and contained 
special undertakings by the Sultans of Turkey and Zanzibar 
and the Shah of Persia, who were signatories. 

This Act was the Magna Gharta of the African slave, and 
Sir John Kirk's share, as our plenipotentiary, in its production 
was a fitting consummation to his life-work. With the ratifi- 
cation of the Brussels Act a new era dawned. Africa had 
passed, or was passing, under the control of different European 
nations, and though occupation had not yet become fuUy 
effective, the obligations of those who claimed territorial 
sovereignty were now clearly acknowledged. 

It was not till the Mahdi was conquered by Kitchener in 
1898 that effective control could be exercised in the Sudan. 
In Mgeria, where the Moslem Emirs axmually employed large 
armies in raiding for slaves and had depopulated great regions,^ 
the Imperial Government assumed control in 1900, and ia 
spite of the pressure of the South African and the Ashanti 
wars, the power of the Pulani was broken in 1902 and 1903, 
and slave-raiding put an end to. A system founded on the 
tyrannical and bestial misuse of force had been crushed by 
force — the only method which could be understood by the 

1 Northern Nigeria Annual Report, Colonial Office Series 409 of 1902. See 
also Earth's 'Travels in Central Africa,' vol. iii. pp. 225, 233-236, et patsim. 


people. Omelettes cannot be made without breaking eggs. 
There were those, no doubt, who said that slave-raiding could 
only be suppressed by the construction of railways and the 
introduction of currency — ^neither of which was possible in a 
country openly hostile, which admitted the ingress of no 
Europeans. Such methods would have required one or two 
decades to accomplish. Prom a distance they advocated 
patience. Why hurry, though villages were burning and the 
remnant of the people was being wiped out ? 

The atrocities of the slave-trade and the decision to abolish 
it were the immediate expression of a conflict between two 
rival ideals, supported by two great world forces — that of 
mUitant Islam ^ on the one hand, with its disregard for Ufe 
and its selfish appropriation by the powerful of all that was 
desirable ; and that, on the other hand, of the nations assem- 
bled at Brussels in 1889 — as they assembled at Paris three 
decades later — to declare their Mandate, " in the name of 
God Almighty," as trustees for " protectiag effectively the 
aboriginal populations of Africa, and ensuring to that vast 
continent the benefits of peace and civilisation." Not all 
perhaps of those who have given their lives to the task recog- 
nised the greatness of the issue. Material as well as moral 
forces were at work — and it is weU that the conflict came 
when it did. 

With this brief historical and descriptive introduction, I 
pass to the discussion of slavery from the standpoint more 
proper to the object of this volume — viz., as an administrative 
problem. In the first place, it wiU be useful to consider what 
slavery is, and what are the conditions which distinguish the 
lot of a slave from a freeman. We may, I think, assume that 
there are three factors which affect the lot of a slave most 
nearly : (a) whether he is of the same race as his master ; 
(6) the nature of the law (if any) affecting his status ; and 
(e) what facilities it gives him for advancement or redemption. 

Slaves captured ia tribal war, or sold by one tribe to another 

1 It fell to my personal lot to fight militant Islam in the Sudan, on STyasa, 
in Uganda and in Nigeria, but the repatriation of the Moslem Waganda by me, 
and my subsequent relations with the Moslem rulers in the latter country, wiU, 
I think, show that it was against it as an aggressive force, and not as a creed, 
that I found myself on so many occasions opposed to it in arms. My action 
gave rise to charges of militarism in Press and Parliament, and Mr Woolf (whose 
book is otherwise devoid of humour) descri